(June 2011) In defence of Ivy

Before anyone starts hacking ivy off trees I would suggest reading the article called IVY – FRIEND OR FOE? which can be found at the website www.arborecology.co.uk in the articles section. This provides a balanced view on the issue of ivy on trees. Some of the key points are as follows.

  • Ivy is not parasitic and does not directly affect the health of the trees it climbs. A heavy infestation of ivy is likely to be a sign that the tree is in a natural state of decline.
  • Ivy provides shelter for birds and their nests and roosting sites for bats.
  • In Autumn the flowers are an important source of nectar and pollen for bees and many other insects.
  • The berries which ripen in March/April have a high fat content and are an invaluable energy source for many species of birds.
  • Many species of invertebrate live in ivy and some feed on it directly. These invertebrates themselves are an important food sources for many other species.

The removal of ivy from trees may be considered desirable in parks and gardens but this does not mean that it is always appropriate in the countryside. It should also be noted that it is an offence to damage or destroy a breeding site or resting place of any bat and it does not require the offence to be intentional or deliberate.

Andy Newbold