English Ivy

Hedera helix

Family: Araliaceae

Type of weed:

Flower colour(s):

Priority Weed Local Priority Weed. (See more weeds of the class.)

Flowering Months: , ,


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.


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.


, . 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.


  • Hand remove
  • Remove flowers, fruit, pods or seeds
  • Spray
  • Stem inject or frill
  • Scrape and paint

Manual control

Hand remove

Take hold of one runner and gently pull it along the ground towards you. Check points of resistance where fibrous roots grow from the nodes. Cut roots with a knife or dig out with a trowel and continue to follow the runner. The major root systems need to be removed manually or scrape/cut and painted with herbicide. Bag any reproductive parts.

Remove seeds, pods or fruit

Gently remove any seeds, pods or fruit and carefully place in a bag.

Chemical control

Note: Herbicides that may be used for this weed include Glyphosate.


Please consult the Herbicide page of this website to help you decide whether to spray, how to do it safely and more.

Stem injection or frilling

Stem injection
Drilling holes at 45° and squirting poison into holes
Apply poison immediately after drilling

At the base of the tree, drill holes at a 45° angle into the sapwood (just under the outer bark) at two finger space intervals around the entire base of the tree. Repeat this process below the lowest branch


As an alternative to drilling, make cuts into the sapwood with a chisel or axe. Fill each cut/hole with herbicide immediately. Repeat the process at 3 cm intervals around the tree.


Plants should be healthy and actively growing. Deciduous plants should be treated in spring and autumn when leaves are fully formed. For multi-stemmed plants, inject or chip below the lowest branch or treat each stem individually. Herbicide must be injected immediately before the plant cells close (within 30 seconds before translocation of herbicide ceases.)

Scrape and paint

Using knife to scrape long gashes along stem
Scrape bark/outer layer away with a knife

With a knife, scrape up to a metre of the stem to reach the layer below the bark/outer layer. Immediately apply herbicide along the length of the scrape.

  • A maximum of half the stem diameter should be scraped. Do not ringbark.
  • Larger stems (over 1 cm in diameter) should have two scrapes opposite each other.
  • Vines can be left hanging in trees after treatment.

Specific control tips for this weed

Control measure: The spread of this plant should be contained to prevent spread to priority assets. Weed notices will only be issue under special circumstances.

(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 key points on these techniques:

Local Priority Weed

Control measures:

  • The plant should be fully and continuously suppressed and destroyed.
  • Plants under 4 metres in height should be fully and continuously suppressed and destroyed.
  • The spread of this plant should be adequately contained to prevent spread impacting on priority assets. Weed notices will only be issued for these weeds under special circumstances.