English Ivy (Hedera helix)



Evergreen perennial vine that can climb up to 30 m into the canopy.  Leaves are dark green, lobed, and waxy; stems grasp onto tree trunks through aerial roots.  Inconspicuous flowers are followed by purplish clustered fruits.


This Eurasian species has been widely planted as an ornamental.  It grows in both sun and shade, and can form a thick carpet on the forest floor.  It will climb and blanket trees, making them more vulnerable to blowdown and disease.  On Galiano Island, it is occasionally found in forested areas near settlements.


English ivy excludes native vegetation by smothering it and taking up all the available light.  It reduces wildlife habitat and forage, and is a vector for bacterial leaf scorch (Xylella fastidiosa), which affects native oaks and maples.


Wear gloves and a long-sleeved shirt to avoid skin rashes.  Cut vines that have established on trees near the ground level, firmly severing the connection.  Remove rooted plants by hand, digging carefully to remove the rhizomes.  Several passes will be required to remove remnant root fragments.  On sites where native species are not present, the area can be covered with an impermeable membrane post-removal for 3-6 months to reduce the need for future removal efforts.  Removed plant material should be burned.

Our Experience

English ivy is very difficult to remove once established.  Large populations can be managed to prevent spreading by creating and enforcing a perimeter.  Any vine that begins to climb a tree should be cut to prevent aerial fruit production.  English ivy should be removed wherever small populations occur, and spread should be managed in larger populations if removal is not feasible.

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