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English Ivy

Species
Hedera helix

English ivy is an ornamental, evergreen, woody climber, originally introduced from Europe. It is commonly planted to provide quick cover for walls and buildings, and as ground cover in commercial landscapes. All Hedera species are probably potentially invasive.

How does it spread? 
In its mature form, English ivy can produce flowers and seeded fruits that are mainly dispersed by birds. The plant also reproduces vegetatively by long vines that root at the nodes and adhere to, and climb over almost any obstacle. Even small fragments of the vine can readily root in moist environments. High horticultural demand and gardening activities such as dumping of garden waste, ineffective composting, movement and transport of contaminated materials and the continuous buying and selling of English ivy seem to be the strongest vectors of spread.

Where would I find it? 
English ivy is now recognized as a serious, smothering invasive in much of southwestern BC. It thrives in full sun to full shade, moist and well-drained soils and can tolerate a range of extremes including heat, drought, wide pH fluctuations and soil compaction. It infests and impacts all levels of disturbed and undisturbed areas such as hedgerows, rocks and cliffs, coastal areas, salt marsh edges, woodlands, forest edges, upland areas, walls, fences, houses, posts and ornamental trees.

What problems does it cause? 
Once established, English ivy vigorously grows to form dense monocultures of horizontal-growing and stiff climbing stems. These dense mats overwhelm, suppress and exclude other vegetation, block light, prevent natural seedling succession, destabilize slopes, debilitate trees, harbour pests (i.e. Norway rats), create unsuitable wildlife habitat and cause damage to human infrastructure. In addition, leaves and berries contain poisonous compounds and the roots may have allelopathic effects on seed germination.

Additional Recommendations

  • Boston Ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata) (z4)
  • Western Honeysuckle (Lonicera ciliosa) BC native (z5) 
  • Piggy-back Plant (Tolmiea menziesii) BC native (z7) 

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