, ,

If you’ve driven in or around Atlanta recently, you may have noticed small somewhat odd signs that have begun to pop up here and there. The signs look similar to the political yard signs that people put out on their front lawn around voting seasons. The only difference is these signs aren’t politically related and bear only 4 words:

English Ivy Kills Trees

English Ivy Kills Trees

English Ivy Kills Trees

If you are like me you have probably wondered where these signs are coming from. Who puts them there? Why is English Ivy the target of such frustration? Isn’t kudzu a worse problem?

The people who put these signs up are somewhat difficult to find. A web search of “English Ivy kills trees signs” will bring up mostly vague sources and people posting pictures of these signs, looking for their creators. Some have dubbed these people “the anti-ivy league.” However, it seems to be less of a centralized organization and more of a wide array of people who care about nature and want to put an end to the damage that English ivy is causing to trees and green spaces.

English ivy is essentially a pretty weed, and while kudzu poses the same threat to trees and other plants that English ivy does, most people are aware of the dangers of kudzu and unaware that English ivy shares it’s cousin’s threatening nature. However, unlike kudzu, English ivy is often planted intentionally because it does hold a level of aesthetic appeal. What’s more, English ivy poses no threat to humans in the same way as poison ivy or poison oak, and it grows slower and prettier than kudzu. This means that English ivy is more likely to go unchecked because many people like it and few people understand its dangers.

The dangers English ivy pose to trees and other plants are many and yet it is surprisingly simple to get prevent damage. English ivy will not choke out a tree by draining it of water or sap, but it will prevent sunlight and proper oxygen reaching the roots of the trees and even the leaves in some cases. This can cause trees to become sick and even die. Because English ivy can also grow is thick mats along the ground, it prevents other plants from growing creating places that are becoming known as “ivy deserts.” If English ivy begins to get out of hand it can easily be trimmed back. Once it starts growing up a tree it can be easily removed by uprooting the plant, and trimming it about 3 feet off the ground. The rest can be left on the tree and will begin to fall off in 1 to 3 months.

If you happen to have English ivy that you enjoy and want to keep, by all means do so. Just be sure to keep it well trimmed and controlled so that it doesn’t get out of hand and cause damage to other plants.