English Ivy

Hedera helix

Family: Araliaceae

Type of weed:

Flowering Months: , ,

Description

An evergreen climbing vine.

Dark green waxy leaves arranged alternately along the stem. Leaves are 3-lobed on juvenile plants and change to un-lobed oval leaves when the plant is mature (tall enough to reach sunlight).

When the vine is mature it produces small greenish flowers that occur in umbrella-like clusters.

Purplish to black berry-like fruit matures in spring.

Note: Leaves and berries are poisonous. Flower pollen can irritate eyes and a mite associated with Ivy can be an irritant for some people.

Don’t confuse with…

Ivy can be confused with Wonga Wonga Vine (Pandorea pandorana) before the native plant develops its distinctive lobed leaves. Wonga Wonga Vine has slimmer leaves which frequently have between three and nine leaflets and the vine does not cling to the bark of the tree as is the habit of Ivy.

Dispersal

Seed is largely spread by birds. English Ivy readily roots along the stem and spreads from discarded cuttings and in dumped garden waste.

Impact on bushland

Ivy is an aggressive invader growing densely along the ground and into the tree canopy. It smothers native vegetation and results in loss of biodiversity. Vines climbing up trees if untreated will eventually disrupt the tree’s growth and cause the death of the tree.

Distribution

, . Whole of Local Government Area, but mostly upper Mountains.

Alternative planting

Native plants

  • Twining Purple Pea (Hardenbergia violacea)
  • Wonga Wonga Vine (Pandorea pandorana)
  • Water Vine (Cissus antarctica)
  • Old Man’s Beard (Clematis aristata)
    NB: not Clematis cultivars; these can also be environmental weeds.

Council provides a tool, on its Mountain Landscapes website, to help you choose native alternative plantings. Choose your village, soil, vegetation community and the purpose of your planting, and the tool will give you suggestions.

There are native nurseries in several Blue Mountains villages, including Glenbrook, Lawson and Katoomba. Please also ask at your favourite local nursery.

Control

(Vines climbing up trees: N.B. do not pull Ivy, dead or alive, out of the canopy as this is habitat for microbats and other small animals.)

Vines grown into the canopy of a plant:

  • Cut each stem about 500 mm above the ground. First scrape each stem and paint with neat herbicide above and below the planned cut. It is important to keep the cut low to allow adequate length of the stems to be reached for re-treatment.
  • Alternatively, stem inject where vines are very large.

Vines growing as a groundcover:

  • Pull out by hand making sure to remove all root and stem parts. All material needs to be securely rafted to ensure it will not take root and regrow, or
  • Heavy mulching, or
  • Spray where the foliage is dense and there are not native plants nearby.

Berries are bird spread. It is best to treat plants before they fruit. Alternatively, bag fruit and place in a hot compost to kill the seeds.

For more info

For key points on these techniques: