NC Native Plant Society:
Plant Details

Hedera helix var. helix

English Ivy, Common Ivy

Scientific Name:

Hedera helix var. helix



Species Epithet:


Common Name:

English Ivy, Common Ivy

Plant Type

Woody Vine

Life Cycle


Plant Family

Araliaceae (Ginseng Family)


Not Native to US

Invasive Status:

Rank 1 - Severe Threat (*Key)


0-1 ft., 1-3 ft., 3-6 ft., 6-12 ft., 12-36 ft., 36-72 ft.

Bloom Color(s):

White, Green


Sun - 6 or more hours of sun per day, Part Shade - 2 to 6 hours of sun per day, Less than 2 hours of sun per day

Soil Moisture:

Dry, Moist

Bloom Time:

June, July

Growing Area:

Mountains, Piedmont, Coastal Plain

Habitat Description:

Persistent, established, and spreading around old home sites, in suburban woodlands and waste areas (Weakley 2015). Native of Europe. Common throughout NC.

Leaf Arrangement:


Leaf Retention:


Leaf Type:

Leaves veined, not needle-like or scale-like

Leaf Form:


Life Cycle:


Wildlife Value:

Not Assigned

Landscape Value:

Not Recommended for home landscapes


European native.

What a pretty groundcover. If only it would stay a ground cover, stay where you want it. But no, it spreads. It grows up anything it can find - your house, your shrubbery, your trees. On your house it can pull the pointing from between the bricks. Or it can hold moisture against your wood siding and rot it but quick!

Let it get up your trees, and it changes character from ground cover to an arboreal shrub. It does not twine around as wisteria, but grows up holding on by hundreds of little "feet". The leaves even change shape from the familiar three points to a smoother, rounder one-point form. Ivy up a tree sends out runners, yes, and they reach down to the ground where they take root and begin to climb again! It grows out onto the branches of the tree. And it sends out its own heavy branches, with flowers and eventually black seedpods.

Such a monster up a tree can make the tree entirely too top heavy. It might just break or fall and then where will it land?


Juvenile and adult leaves have different shapes.


Black Mountain
© MB Baumeister



Black Mountain
© MB Baumeister

Taking Over

Below are pictures of ivy that got away years and years ago. The lower part of the ivy on the tree has been trimmed away, so I could see what kind of job was ahead... the vines running up the tree trunk are, some of them, bigger around than my arm! :( I'm still puzzling how to remove it without damaging or killing the tree.


Black Mountain
© MB Baumeister

Ivy up the Tree


Black Mountain
© MB Baumeister

The Next Step

The stems were cut, leaving a foot wide band so that they could not easily grow together again.


Black Mountain
© MB Baumeister

The Result - After 2 Years!

Certainly not pretty, but still encouraging. :) The dead stems are slowly letting go. Really, you do not want to go through this in your garden. If you have ivy, at least keep it from climbing!


Black Mountain
© MB Baumeister


USDA PLANTS Database Record

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