about south river federation

Take a walk in your community, go hiking in a County park, or even look in your own back yard- you’ll probably see a mass of vines climbing the trunks and branches of trees or blanketing the ground. You are likely looking at one or two widespread invasive species that are bad news for our forests. One of the most commonly seen offenders in the South River watershed (or anywhere on the East Coast, really…) is English Ivy.

English Ivy, native to Europe and Asia and introduced in the 18th century as a hardy evergreen groundcover, is so ubiquitous in the US that most people probably don’t realize it’s invasive. It can be found everywhere you go- climbing buildings and houses in the city or your neighborhood, and swarming up the trunks of trees and blanketing the forest floor. As the vine spreads across the ground it quickly overwhelms native plants and shrubs, denying them moisture and sunlight. As it climb trees it sprouts branches and competes with it host for sunlight. Over time, the mass of vines becomes thicker and heavier, eventually reaching the point where the added mass can cause trees to become unstable and vulnerable to toppling over during high winds. After climbing high enough, the vine will begin to produce seeds which are consumed and spread by birds, allowing it to quickly spread over large areas.

South River Federation is not sitting idle on this issue. English Ivy is a target of our invasive species management efforts on our restoration sites whenever it is found. Additionally, in the fall of 2017 the Federation is going to begin tackling the ivy infestation at Historic London Town & Gardens as part of our reforestation project that will occur there in 2018. With some hard work from Federation staff, volunteers, and even some Midshipmen, SRF will clear over one square acre of English Ivy from the forest around the reforestation site. Stay in touch for more updates on these efforts.

Do you have English Ivy growing on your property? You can make a difference safely and easily without the use of chemicals. For ivy covering the ground, gather the vines using a hard rake and then use pruning snips to cut any that remain in the ground. All gathered vines can be bagged and disposed of as yard waste or composted. Vines climbing trees are easier to address. A few feet up from the ground, use a small saw to make two cuts no less than four inches apart on the main vines, and then pull away the portion of vine between the cuts. After this, it won’t take long before the vines begin to brown and die off.