Driving outside the backroads outside of Atlanta and I see a sign ‘English Ivy Kills Trees’. I ignore it, you see a million signs every day right?
- ‘Make $23,00/month flipping houses’
- ‘Regrow Hair’
- ‘Fix Bad Credit’ and the list goes on.
I see the same sign again, 'The Pilgrim' does not give a fuck, so similar reaction. A few days later I pass a few trees covered in ivy. I scoff “Whatever.” This loop goes on over several weeks until I’m cruising down the interstate listening to disco music and it clicks “Holy shit, there's a lot of this ivy crap everywhere and it probably is killing those trees.”
English Ivy scientifically known as Hedera Helix, is a plant I’ve passed by but never took notice of. Until I saw those signs by the highway in Tennessee and Georgia. I read a few articles about the plant that astonished me about how it slowly kills plants.
What surprised me the most is how much of it I see every day. Entire areas of land, miles long, by the highway are covered, It’s not in tiny patches either. English Ivy will dominate any area it is in if left unchecked. Engulfing trees 20-50 feet high and creeping along any nearby flat grassy areas, nothing is safe.
When you get closer to these ‘Ivy deserts’ you can see that most of life is dead underneath. The lover level shrubs are brown and dead. Taller trees send out branches to beat the threat, only lengthening their demise by adding more rooms for vines to grow. It's like a python slowly wrapping around you, every breath giving you less air until you can’t breathe anymore. OK, enough with the doom and gloom already.
Da Fuq Bro?
Why do you want to write about ivy? This is literally the most boring topic you could pick. Maybe a bunch of old ladies playing bridge might care. Because it bothers me, to see those fuckers coating by on the back of hard working trees; it’s causing actual death and destruction and barely anybody gives a damn.
Ask yourself. Have you ever wanted to hang out in an ivy forest? Let me know. It’s not on my destination plans. At the end of the day, it does nothing for nobody. Our animals won’t eat it and our trees can’t live with it. It might look cool on some fancy estate or
Olive Garden restaurant wall, but it freaking sucks for the wildlife just trying to get by. So let’s get you up to speed, so you can join me in Ivy hatred.
How did we get here? This trash is from England (Europe in general) and has taken over like the Beatles in the 60’s. The ivy was believed to have been brought by English settlers as early as the 1700’s to the colonies, initially Virginia. FUN FACT: There is a town called Ivy, Virginia. The wanted to have the royal looking old-timey ivy coverage they had in England. Bringing that certain ‘Whang!’ that backwater colonial America was missing.
They also used to combat soil erosion on bare hills, but since Ivy doesn't make deep roots, it really just a dumb idea. The plant spread through people wanting that same style and bringing it to new areas - ‘Ivy league’ ring a bell? Then birds eat the fruits the plant produce and poop out the seeds elsewhere - the circle of life. From there the ivy spreads into forests, ravines, cliffs, meadows and wherever it could get itself.
Nowadays, they sell the stuff at places like Home Depot all over the country. You wife guilts you into some renovation project, you down a few beers and set up a shitty vine fence over a weekend. Then it’s off to the races, you are spreading the plague.
Effects & Stats
English ivy kills by creeping up a tree and spreading its fuckin leaves all over. The vines cover the plant, blocking all sunlight coming in. It’s not a parasite or anything, because it doesn’t penetrate into the tree itself. But the vines can scratch the bark as it grows, letting smaller insect to enter the tree, to get in on some of the action.
After the plant is covered in the extra vine growth, its dies anyway and may just fall over under its own weight. This sped up if you live somewhere that has heavy rain or snowfall. That tree just wanted to hold it own, maybe a few birds, as long as they paid rent on time.
If you have this type of ivy on your house for that cool Yale aesthetic, then you could be putting the structural integrity of your house at risk. The little vine runners seep into the cracks between bricks and spread them out. Eventually, there is nothing there to hold the bricks together. You are left holding the bag when a section of your house falls on the landscaper.
English Ivy is mostly on the coasts but does go inland quite a bit, reaching as far east as texas from the coast. Most of the midwest and mountain west are looking clear. My guesses area high dry climates, farmers cowboys, and actual deserts.
A couple states have banned its sale but it’s kinda too late now. Most you can do is try and keep it out of your own backyard. Unless you are some kind of Ivy fan then have at it.
What do we now? March on Washington? Start a petition? Harass Jay-Z’s daughter on Twitter? Nah, none of that stuff. If you read this and drive down the highway and say ”Damn that a lot of fuckin’ ivy everywhere”, then my job here is done. Keep doing what you do.
To kill ivy vines have you have to do is separate the vine covering the tree from the ground. If you can make two cuts between shin and hip height you will cut off the head of the hydra. Ain’t nobody got time for that as we set up force our new space military. Most I can do is get a machete from Walmart and attack every climbing vine I see.
Sometimes I get a bit philosophical. There is a metaphor to be made here, about letting thing creep up on you. Habits you never wanted or ignored making headway into your life and taking over your resources just because you weren't vigilant enough to get rid of it early. Now you live to support something that’s not necessarily parasitic but uses you as a means to support itself slowly killing you in the process.
That's deep, Jack