English ivy

Hedera helix


Family: Araliaceae

Other common names: English ivy, Atlantic ivy

Weed Class: C

Year Listed: 2002

Native to: No data provided

Toxic: not known to be

Other Legal Listings:

additional photos



Why is it a noxious weed?

Ivy can outcompete native plants, reducing animal foraging habitat. It inhibits regeneration of understory plants and kills understory and overstory trees by shading them out. Ivy can cause storm damage trees due to its added weight in the canopy.

How would I identify it?

General Description: English ivy is a woody evergreen perennial. It can grow as a vine (juvenile form) or a shrub (adult form). Vines can grow up to 99 feet. In its juvenile form, the plant produces adventitious roots that allow vines to anchor to vertical surfaces.

Flower Description: English ivy only matures to produce flowers when it begins to grow vertically. The small (0.2 to 0.3 inch), bisexual, greenish-white flowers occur in umbrella-like clusters in the fall.

Leaf Description: Leaves are alternate and leathery, with long petioles. Juvenile leaves are deeply 3 to 5 lobed and 1.6 to 4 inches long and wide. Flower stem leaves have primarily un-lobed leaves that are egg-shaped to diamond shaped. Only young leaves are hairy.

Stem Description: Stems are climbing vines, shrub-like or groundcovers. Young stems have hairs while older stems are hairless.

Fruit/Seed Description: The dark colored fruits (dark blue to black, berry-like drupes) mature in the spring. Each fruit produces 4 to 5 seeds.

May be confused with:

How does it reproduce?

During its juvenile stage, ivy spreads rapidly by vegetative stem growth while mature plants can also spread by seed. On average, 70% of ivy seeds are viable.

Where does it grow?

Ivy grows in a variety of landscaped areas, escaping to disturbed forests at a range of elevations. It can grow in a variety of soil types and light conditions. Other habitats include forest edges, fields, hedgerows and coastal areas. Please click here to see a county level distribution map of the four listed cultivars of English ivy in Washington.

How do I control it?

Mechanical Control

Plants can successfully be pulled by hand or dug out. In the case of plants climbing on trees, vines can be cut at a comfortable height to kill the upper portions of the vine.

Cultural Control

Burning plants and re-sprouts at regular intervals with a blow torch will eventually deplete the plant's energy.

Herbicide Control

Please refer to the PNW Weed Management Handbook, or contact your county noxious weed coordinator.


For more information

See our Written Findings for more information about listed ivy species and cultivars (Hedera helix Baltica, Pittsburgh, and Star; H. hibernica Hibernica).
Plant Conservation Alliance Alien Plant Working Group fact sheet on English Ivy

Additional Photos



Hedera hibernica Hibernica


Ivy infestation


Hedera helix Baltica


Hedera hibernica Hibernica


Hedera helix Pittsburgh


Hedera helix Star


Ivy going to seed


leaf below fruiting stems


underside of leaf below fruiting stems


maturing fruit


mature fruit


mature fruit


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