Ivy Can Strangle Redwoods

I came across a fallen redwood recently that had been severely strangled by English ivy. The redwood had fallen across the road and a cross-section had been cut through the redwood’s trunk, revealing a shockingly think mass of ivy branches tightly wrapped around the tree’s bark.

Ivy is a climbing vine that once introduced to the redwood forest, can aggressively spread across the forest floor and up the trunk of redwoods. While appearing harmless at first, once established, ivy can grow quickly and cover the tree with leaves that block light and woody vines that restrict tree growth. Once a tight network of ivy branches are wrapped around a tree trunk, the tree will no longer be able to grow in girth.

If you have ivy creeping up one of your redwood trees, I recommend removing the ivy before it gets too firm of a grip on the tree. Your redwood will appreciate it!

Ivy and Redwoods
This photo shows the cross-section of a fallen coast redwood tree that has been strangled by ivy. Note the thick network of ivy branches (small circular cross-sections) in an outer ring surrounding the bark of the redwood trunk.

Ivy and Redwoods
Brilliant green ivy leaves (left) cover the 2-inch wide ivy vine shown in cross-section on the outside of the this fallen coast redwood trunk (right).

About the author

Emily Burns, the League’s former Director of Science, led the research program that includes the Redwoods and Climate Change Initiative. She holds a PhD in Integrative Biology on the impacts of fog on coast redwood forest flora from the University of California, Berkeley.

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