Behaviour

There has been considerable discussion and controversy, about ivy’s effect on trees, buildings and other structures:

  • clinging roots are thought to penetrate walls causing physical damage to the structure and allowing ingress of water
  • some say it literally strangles trees as the ivy stems become thicker with age
  • heavy growth of ivy on buildings and trees is believed to increase the risk of windthrow - damage caused by the resistance of the foliage to high winds

However, these views have been challenged:

  • well-maintained brickwork is now thought to be relatively unaffected by ivy and even to benefit from the protection the plant covering offers
  • evidence for damage to trees is also disputed
  • good growth of ivy on buildings certainly offers shelter for other wildlife
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