English ivy

One of the non-native invasives* in Frink Park

English ivy (Hedera hibernica; formerly known as H. helix 'Hibernica' or Baltica') has long been cultivated and is perhaps the Pacific Northwest's most commonly cultivated evergreen ground cover. It is one of major challenges to restoring the ecological balance back to Frink Park. Many of our work parties have devoted 1000 of hours of volunteer time removing English Ivy from the big leaf maples and madronas in many areas on the park. An excellent article about Ivy control was published in the Seattle PI.

What is the problem with English ivy?

  1. Ivy vines inhibit new plants from germinating and smothering smaller plants.
  2. Older ivy plants are heavy and lead to limb breakage
  3. During winter they become heavier due to ice and snow increasing the risk of damage to trees
  4. Their berries in spring are favored by starlings
  5. Ivy is spread by the birds and other animals so containment is difficult.
  6. Vines can last a long time a long time - one reported to be 433 years old!
  7. Vines in its juvenile phase can reach 100 feet!
  8. Waxy leaves are virtually impervious to herbicides

*Invasives are plants that have moved into a habitat and reproduce so aggressively that it has displaced some of the original components of the vegetative community.

Thanks to the Seattle Garden Club, Center for Urban Horticulture and King Co. Dept of Public Works for research on English ivy.

Content contributed by Jon Jaffe.