Friday, February 13, 2015

Is Ivy Harmful When it Climbs Trees?

Here's the client question of the day!

Dear Paul; I have an ivy vine that is crawling up several of my oak trees and one pine tree.   I consider the vine to be somewhat picturesque, it is about 25 feet up one of the oaks.  Is this harmful to the tree??   If so, do I just cut the vine at the base of the tree??  If the vine must be identified, can I snip a leaf and email a picture to you??



Dear Fred; I suspect the vine is English Ivy (Hedera helix), and yes I can confirm from a clipping or photo. It is problematic for a couple of reasons.

1. Since ivy is evergreen, the leaves will be covered in ice if we have freezing rain, which adds significant weight and can cause limbs to break.

2. When ivy starts climbing, it can reach the reproductive stage and produce berries. The berries are consumed by birds, which can spread ivy to new areas. Ivy is a non-native plant, and while it can serve a purpose in the landscape, it displaces native plants when it becomes established in natural areas.

Cutting the vine at the base is a good way to control it. The ivy may stay green in the canopy for a season or two as it burns up stored sugars, but eventually it will die.

Hope this helps!

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