Information on English Ivy

Overview

English Ivy is a commonly used landscaping plant because of its beauty, fast growth and light maintenance requirements. The scientific name is Hedera helix. No natural pests can cause problems for the vine, which means the vine can become invasive if not controlled. English ivy has the ability to overrun all other plant life if left unchecked.

Identification

English Ivy is a member of the ginseng family. It is an evergreen climbing vine according to the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Leaves are dark green and waxy; some vines have white stripes. According to the Nature Conservancy the most common type of English Ivy has a three-lobed, heart-shaped leaf. The vines have small, pale, green flowers, which bloom in autumn. Black fruit are produced in the spring. The vine itself is a woody, light gray and can reach 10 inches in diameter. The bark can be bumpy and gnarly.

Geography

English Ivy is native to Europe, western Asia and the north of Africa. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, this vine is found in 26 states and the District of Columbia. In the U.S. this vine has invaded woodlands, hedgerows and upland areas. English Ivy grows well where some soil moisture is present but does not like extremely wet conditions.

History

Emigrants from Europe brought ivy to the U.S., according to the Nature Conservancy. It was developed as an ornamental landscaping plant throughout the U.S.

Behavior

English Ivy reproduces by seed often dispersed by birds. New plants can also grow from cuttings when placed in soil. This is a fast-growing vine that produces dense vegetation, preventing sunlight from reaching any plantlife below it.

Concerns

This ivy is not used by many wildlife species because of toxins, including glycosides, which can cause vomiting and diarrhea in animals and people. English Ivy can kill host trees by preventing sunlight from reaching the leaves, thereby starving the tree within a few years. English Ivy is known to overtake an area and grow beyond intended boundaries. The pathogen Xylella fastidiosa uses the ivy as a starting point to infect elms, oaks and maples with bacterial leaf scorch, according to the Department of Conservation.

Control

English Ivy can be controlled by various methods. These include a combination of mechanical, chemical and physical methods. Hand-pulling is used to during winter months to remove most of the vine. Cutting vines at the central nodes can also control the growth. The Extension Service recommends placing the cuttings in large, heavy-duty garbage bags to avoid any chance of loose cuttings re-rooting. The Extension Service also recommends using clippers to cut away any vines clinging to trees by cutting at the base and pulling the vines off. A spray solution of five percent glyphosate with surfacant can be used to spot spray the ground. The Mississippi State University Extension states there are no biological controls widely used for control purposes; any chemical control will be slow in producing results.

Keywords: English Ivy, invasive plants, landscaping plants

About this Author

Jack S. Waverly is a Pennsylvania-based freelance writer who has written hundreds of articles relating to business, finance, travel, history and health. His current focus is on pets, gardens, personal finance and business management. Waverly has been writing online content professionally since 2007 for various providers and websites.