Will ivy growing up a tree kill the tree?

The short answer is yes, eventually. Ivy damages bark as it climbs. Ivy will eventually outgrow even a mature tree. As the ivy climbs, it weakens the branches by its weight and prevents light from penetrating the leaves.

If left unchecked, it will eventually grow down the tree trunks to the canopy and then grow outward, as seen in the photograph above. The added weight of ivy makes the tree more susceptible to wind breakage. English ivy will deny the sun to the treetops in which it grows and can eventually kill shrubs by shading its wrapped branches. Large-diameter live ivy vines can restrict trunk growth, injure bark, and create entry sites for pests and diseases.

Once ripe, English ivy produces berries full of seeds that birds eat and then distribute the seeds of invasive species throughout the region. It is often thought that ivy growing on trees is a serious problem, endangering the health of even very large trees. However, its presence on the trunk is not harmful and where it grows to become the crown, it is usually only because the trees are already in decline or are sick and die slowly. Like many innocently imported species, English ivy can be invasive and damage trees and structures with prolonged growth.

The real damage to the bark of a tree occurs when the owners try to tear off ivy stalks that are glued to the bark. When removing English ivy manually, you'll want to make sure you remove as much of the plant as possible, both the stems and roots, as it can grow back from the stems and roots left in the ground. These materials were developed for the regional naturalist teachers of TreeStewards and Arlington under a grant from the Tree Canopy Fund in Arlington, Virginia. When tangles of ivy climb up the trunk of your tree, you either love the splash of color or you get annoyed by invasive vines.

Watching birds extract insects from the bark and accessing nesting holes in healthy trees that are not enveloped in ivy raises the question of how they could easily do so on trees suffocated by ivy. Once the ivy is dead, you can remove the stems from the tree, as the roots will fall off instead of sticking to the tree. After all, the way it grows upward and covers the bark of trees may seem like an unhealthy biological relationship in which ivy absorbs nutrients from the tree, all for the sake of its own growth. The problem is not really the ivy that climbs up the trunk of the tree, but the clusters of ivy at the top of the tree; these, over time, will prevent the tree from getting the light it needs.

When the site is not needed for planting, an alternative control method is to remove all upper growth before placing a weed control cloth and a layer of bark mulch 10-15 cm (4-6 in) deep. The oak has been shedding small twigs from the ends of the branches, a sign of stress, so I wanted to move quickly in the slaughter of the vines. For trees that are bare or weaker, ivy may cause some damage, but this is not usually the case for healthier trees. It's been about 18 months and the tree looks like new (70-foot sycamore tree that had ivy all the way to the top).

Pulling or tearing off ivy stems will inevitably remove pieces of bark; ivy roots are so tightly attached to the bark of trees that they carry the bark with them when they are torn off. But is the age-old assumption that ivy kills trees by strangling them or consuming energy from them true or false? .

Lila Mullenix
Lila Mullenix

Evil problem solver. Avid food nerd. Total travel junkie. Incurable food evangelist. Unapologetic twitter buff.