English ivy was introduced to the US by European settlers as early as 1727, and it was widely planted to provide year-round ground cover. The native of Europe, Western Asia, and Northern Africa is still sold commercially in this country, despite its known status as a dangerous weed of natural ecosystems, parks, and other landscapes. English ivy can now be found from the East coast to Arizona and Washington State. This aggressive vine threatens all levels of forest growth, as it can easily grow up trees. It covers limbs and plants on the forest floor, blocking out the sunlight and impeding photosynthesis. It’s also known to be a host of bacterial leaf scorch, a harmful plant pathogen that poses a threat to many native species.
This evergreen climbing vine has dark green waxy leaves that are variable in form, with anywhere from 3-5 lobes. Late summer flowers are small and greenish-yellow and are followed by fleshy black fruits with stone-like seeds. Individual vines can be pulled from the soil while larger areas can be raked out. Care must be taken when disposing of these vines, as almost any part of the vine can re-sprout if it comes in contact with the soil. Systemic herbicides should be applied to the stems of cut plants that were growing up trees.