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Volunteers Try to Save Dyke Marsh’s Trees

Mireya Stirzaker Invasive plant specialist Mireya Stirzaker, National Park Service, shows volunteers how to remove ivy from tree trunks.

Throughout the 2020-2021 winter, FODMers and the National Park Service are working to remove the very abundant, very invasive English ivy (Hedera helix L.) that is climbing up trees.  This plant is an evergreen, aggressive invader that can outcompete and smother native plants, block sunlight needed by herbs and seedlings and spread into the forest canopy.

dead ivyOnce snipped, the ivy dies.

“Vines climbing up tree trunks spread out and envelop branches and twigs, blocking sunlight from reaching the host tree’s foliage, thereby impeding photosynthesis,” says an NPS fact sheet.  “An infested tree will exhibit decline for several to many years before it dies.” 

Also, the added weight of vines can make the tree more vulnerable to blowing over during storms.  It is also a reservoir for bacterial leaf scorch (Xylella fastidiosa), a harmful plant pathogen, says NPS. 

Volunteers are cutting “windows” at the base of the trees between the volunteer’s ankle and knee and hauling the cut vines away for proper disposal. If cut soon enough, most ivy vines will die.  To help, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and put English ivy in the subject box.

Photos by Glenda Booth

Kaye TiterenceKaye Titerence helped. Jim GearingJim Gearing leads FODM's efforts. volunteersSaving trees depends on volunteers like these.