By Meaghan English, TrueSouth Properties Wildlife Specialist
One of the most favorable indoor and outdoor plants is ivy. Most gardeners and interior designers love the way ivy looks around a door way or makes a side table “pop”. Little do they know, ivy (especially English ivy) is a very invasive species that can get out of control if not managed properly.
Hedera helix or English ivy is a very woody vine that is aesthetically pleasing, regardless of its invasive habits. The vine is part of the evergreen family that can reach heights of 90 feet by wrapping and maneuvering its way around tree trunks or along the ground. The shape of the leaf as well as the color pattern makes this species very desirable. It is usually a leaf with three to five points and white or cream colored veins. The fruit of English ivy is a purple colored berry but it is very toxic to humans and can trigger some allergies in some humans. The vine fruits from October to May. The fruit clusters are pale green in late summer but then turn a dark purple color during winter and spring. Aside from just in the plant section of Home Depot, this particular species can be found throughout the country. English Ivy thrives in forests that are fairly open and not too moist (although it has proven to be quite tolerant to most moisture and soil types). English Ivy DOES NOT do well in wet areas. The ivy prefers to grow in shaded areas as a juvenile, but becomes more tolerant to full sun as it matures. Once the ivy is established, it grows vigorously. The more sunlight the vine receives the more fruits and flowers the vine will produce. English Ivy especially serves as a host for bacteria that can cause diseases in oaks, elms, and maples. Of these diseases, leaf scorch is the most common. Like most invasive species, animal dispersed seeds and vigorous spreading are the number one causes of establishment. The use of this invasive species has varied very little since it was brought over from England and Asia during the 1800s.
While English Ivy may appear harmless and beautiful, it is actually very harmful to native vegetation. The dense infestations choke out other native plants that help the ecosystem and replenish the soil. Don’t be fooled by the beauty of English Ivy, it will only cause havoc to your native vegetation and your pocket book!
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