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English Ivy

General Information

English ivy (Hedera helix) is an evergreen vine with waxy leaves and inconspicuous flowers that ripen into hard, blackish berries.

Growth Habit

English ivy is commonly seen growing up tree trunks and covering the forest floor in closed-canopy forests around the Sea to Sky. It can tolerate a wide range of light availability, but does particularly well in shaded areas. As well, its evergreen nature enables it to grow year round and smother other plants. The other problem with ivy is that when it climbs trees, it can kill them by ringing them and or creating such dense heavy mats on branches that trees can be toppled.


Porteau Cove




Ivy is easy to pull by hand. Where ivy is climbing a tree, it is important to make this a priority for removal. The vine should be cut at breast height and removed to the ground. Do NOT pull ivy from trees as it can pull down large tree branches.
Where ivy is removed from the ground, it will likely come back from little pieces of root left in the soil, therefore follow-up removals are needed. A good way to protect against too much re-invasion is to replant with native shrubs such as:

  • kinnikinnick (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi)
  • salal (Gaultheria shallon)
  • piggy-back plant (Tolmiea menziesii)
  • bunchberry (Cornus canadensis) – all native plants that make good groundcovers.

If you’re looking for a native vine, try western honeysuckle (Lonicera ciliosa).


  • Evergreen vine that can trail along the ground or grow veritcally up trees, fences, walls and hillsides.
  • Most common type of growth lacks flowers and has dull green, lobed leaves with light veins that grow alternately along trailing or climbing stems.
  • Leaf shape and size varies between varieties from deeply to shallowly lobed and from small, narrow leaves to large, broadly shaped leaves.
  • Mature form of growth has shiny, unlobed leaves that grow in dense, whorl-like clusters and produce umbrella-like groups of small yellow-green flowers in the fall, followed by dark purple-black berries in the late winter or early spring.
  • When ivy vines climb, small rootlets form that exude a glue-like substance to allow the vines to attach to almost any surface.
  • Older vines can be tree-like and as much as five inches thick.


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