English Ivy: The Hazards and Removal Strategies
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Understanding English Ivy
English ivy is a vine from Western Europe, brought to the states for use as landscape plant. In regions such as ours, the ivy is an aggressive invader—escaping landscapes to overrun forest ecosystems. Plants common to our forest floors are not equipped to compete with the foreign habits of the ivy. English ivy now poses serious hazards to forested plant communities west of the Cascades. Consequently, the sale of numerous types of English ivy (or ivy cultivars), is now illegal in the state of Oregon.
The Walama Restoration Project (WRP) designed ivy removal methods in conjunction with the City of Eugene. The following methods describe a private landowners’ version of removal procedures used in Hendricks Park, an eighty-acre forested park in Eugene, Oregon. The methods only incorporate physical control measures, or manual removal. Of all removal methods tested, manual removal has proved most plausible and effective (Sardy 1997).
Manual Removal Protocol
- Perform bulk ivy removal in strips, working from the top of a slope downward. Prior to removal, survey the area for native species. One important goal in the ivy removal process is to leave native plants intact. For assistance in native plant identification check Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast by Pojar and Mackenon.
- Standing on top of the ivy and down slope of the line of removal, disentangle or cut the ivy from around the base of native plants in the near vicinity of your line. After freeing your native plants, proceed to the top of your “ivy strip” and start pulling the leaves and stems along a line up to 8 feet in width.
- Roll the ivy into cylindrical wads. Pull out woody debris caught in the wads (such as fir branches) and place on the newly exposed soil. Pull or cut the wad free and drag over existing ivy to an “ivy mound” location. The ivy mound can be composted, left in a heap, or hauled to commercial yard debris outlet—where it will be rendered toast.
- Take care to remove any missed runner stems and roots by pulling and walking the length of the stems as you pull. The stems in some areas are strong and easy to thoroughly remove if “walked”. English ivy stems can regenerate from a piece six inches in length if left behind.
- If found climbing trees, cut and remove the ivy from the bottom circumference of each tree. Make the cleared margin around the base at least three feet high.
- Following the removal of one strip, continue wad removal until reaching the end of the strip. Go back to step 1 for the next strip.
- WRP recommends two follow-up procedures to insure removal effectiveness: a “mop-up” removal the following year combined with the planting of competitive native species in newly exposed soil.
- English ivy is an invasive plant species. Invasive species are one of the top two causes for plant and animal extinction.
- English ivy causes permanent displacement of native plant populations. In other words, the ivy bullies our native populations of wildflowers, trees and shrubs out of our neighborhoods and forests. Wildlife associated with native plants is also forced to relocate. This displacement of local species is one step in the process of extinction, and can be lethal for already rare and endangered species.
- If left unchecked, English ivy climbs and kills trees.
- In high wind conditions, trees laden with English ivy are more likely to fall or be damaged due to the additional weight of water or ice on the ivy.
- English ivy alters natural succession patterns. Over time, the ivy can kill an entire forest, leaving a dense blanket of ivy only broken sparsely by shrubs or trees.
- English ivy spreads rapidly, and is resistant to frost and drought. Immediate removal is essential to save future energy and resources required for its management and eradication.
- The leaves and berries of the ivy are toxic. The ivy’s sap can cause dermatitis.
English ivy (Hedera helix) occurs in two distinct forms: juvenile and mature.
The juvenile stage has lobed leaves and does not flower or bear seeds. The stem has shallow roots emerging directly from the stem (adventitious) that adhere to different substrate, such as the ground or trees. The juvenile phase is well adapted to low light levels and usually found in shady areas—aiding its rapid colonization in undisturbed habitat.
The mature phase has pointed oval-shaped leaves (ovate) and is usually found in sunny locations. Mature ivy lacks adventitious roots and is often woody. English ivy only flowers and bears seeds in the mature phase, and berries persist on the plant for extended periods. Birds eat the ivy berries, and aid in ivy colonization of new areas. The berries are depicted below.
For more information or bids on English ivy removal, contact us!