English Ivy - a common enemy

September's pest plant of the month

area of native bush infested with climbing asparagus
An area smothered with English ivy

The threat to native trees and bush from English ivy

A dense stand of wild ginger in flower
English ivy growing up a pohutukawa

English or common ivy (Hedera helix) is often seen in gardens around Auckland where, if kept under control, it shouldn’t be a problem. But ivy doesn’t know about our boundaries and gets into areas where it gets out of control and causes harm.


It easily smothers native trees, damages their bark, and competes for water. It can even break off branches or topple trees when they become smothered and too heavy. In areas of native bush, ivy can cover the ground preventing new native seedlings from growing.


Learn to recognise this common garden pest plant and control it or report it where it is a problem. It is mostly spread by dumping of garden waste.


English ivy can grow quickly in our mild climate and can rapidly grow up trees and take over. But dealing with this pest climber is relatively simple. Snipping the vines close to the ground and pasting with a careful dab of herbicide gel will kill the roots or you can dig them up. The vines above ground will eventually die and fall away, so there is no need to pull them down.



What does it look like?

  • A vigorous, leafy climber

  • Clinging, woody stems which attach strongly to surfaces

  • Leaves usually have 3 points, but can vary greatly in shape