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Should Ivy be removed from trees?

 23/11/2015    Last Modified: 04/02/2016

For many years, gardeners and arborists alike would, as a matter of common tree maintenance, clear ivy from trees in order to remove the competition for light, water and nutrients, as well as the potential threat of the ivy totally smothering the tree. However, in the light of increasing knowledge and research into the relationship between the plant and its host, it is now not considered an instant threat to the tree, and it is not necessary to remove it on a regular basis.

In certain circumstances (tree inspection, formal areas etc.) it is necessary to clear trees of ivy in order to carry out a detailed inspection of the condition of the tree, or to keep the appearance of the tree ‘tidy’. However, in many instances where trees are in a less strictly managed area, especially where wildlife conservation is the main aim, ivy does not need to be removed.

Ivy is an attractive habitat for insects and invertebrates and consequently bird and animal life can benefit as a result of an increase in available food source. Bats, which are rare and protected by law regularly roost amongst ivy, as well as inside small cavities in suitable trees.

It would therefore depend on the main aims of the managers of the land in question as to whether the ivy is removed from the trees or it is left to provide a wildlife benefit.

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