English Ivy

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English Ivy

(Hedera helix)


English Ivy is a creeping ornamental evergreen ground cover. It has dark green leaves with white veins.

It is shade tolerant and spreads widely. Ivy can become arborescent and grow up to 50 metres (150 feet) up tree trunks.

 English Ivy

Ivy Leaves

 Photo by John Oyston



Came to North America from Europe in early colonical times, and became widely planted as an ornamental. 


In an appropriate climate it can become invasive, creating an "Ivy Desert", as it provides little inthe way of cover or sustanance for native creatures. It can invade forests and force out native vegetation, and climb trees. By adding to the weight of trees it increases the chance of storm damage.  It is especially a problem in the Pacific Northwest and in parts of British Columbia. It is considered invasive in AL, AZ, CA, GA, HI, IA, MD, NC, OR, PA, RI, TN, WI, and WV.


It can be removed manually but this takes a great deal of effort.  In Stanley Park in Vancouver, B.C., the "Ivy Busters" estimate that in their first 39 "Ivy Pulls" more than 700 volunteers removed more than 20,000 square meters of ivy. They expect it will take 50 years of continuing effort to rid Stanley Park of this invasive pest.   In Oregon the "No Ivy League" has organized over 205,900 volunteer hours over 15 years, and rescued 57,000+ trees from the "wretched grasp of English ivy". They have removed over 267 acres (over 11.5 million square feet) of ground ivy from Forest Park and the surrounding areas.

The removed Ivy must be carefully disposed of in a landfill or incinerator to prevent it regrowing at a new location.

If herbicides are used, repeated applications are often necessary. The waxy leaves make it difficult for herbicides to work.

In some area blow torches have been used to burn ivy.

No biological controls are widely used for English ivy control. English ivy seems to have few pests in the United States


Many types of English Ivy are widely available for sale at nurseries and garden centres across most parts of North America, and landscape companies continue to use it in commercail and residential projects.


In Texas, native vines that are good replacements for English ivy include trumpet creeper (Campsis radicans), Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia), passionflower vine (Passiflora lutea), Dutchman's pipe (Aristolochia macrophylla), and native wisteria (Wisteria frutescens).

In more northern climates, consider Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper) or Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (kinnikinnick).