Free a Tree!

Free a Tree!

Written by Madge Bemiss

English ivy (Hedera Helix) is an aggressive garden ground cover, but when allowed to grow vertically, its thick evergreen vines will actually choke and strangle trees. As ivy climbs in search of increased light, it engulfs and kills branches by blocking light from reaching the host tree’s leaves. Branch die back proceeds from lower to upper branches, often leaving the tree with just a small green “broccoli head.” The host tree eventually succumbs entirely from this insidious and steady weakening. In addition, the added weight of the vines makes infested trees much more susceptible to blow-over during high rain and wind events and heavy snowfalls.  (Read more at )

As a ground cover English ivy is not as big of an invasive threat because these plants stay in a juvenile phase and do not flower or set seed. Only plants growing vertically mature to flower and set seeds that  are eaten by birds and spread to distant locations. Cutting down vines will save a tree, and prevent the potential spread of this invasive species.

In the James River Park System, English ivy and poison ivy often grow together. When cutting vines from trees, it’s important to be able to identify the roots – especially for winter work.  Poison Ivy vines are just as toxic as the leaves — a hazard year-round.


Learn How to Remove English Ivy

“Take Ivy Off Trees” – 

“Remove Large Expanses of Ivy from the Ground” – 

Join us in the Park!

If you would like to free some trees in the James River Park this winter, please sign up for one of our workdays at