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Stopping the Sale of Ivy

Whatcom Million Trees Project is leading an effort to prohibit the sale of ivy in Washington State. Their petition to the Washington State Department of Agriculture can be found at

If thousands sign the petition, the WSDA board may add ivy to the WSDA Prohibited Plants and Seeds List at their meeting in May.

Ivy Kills Trees and Wildlife Habitat

Whatcom Million Trees Project estimates that 100,000 mature trees statewide are threatened by English Ivy – and its botanical cousin, Atlantic/Boston Ivy. Ivy spreads rapidly on the ground but it climbs the trunks of any trees in its path. It becomes a slow, silent tree killer when it reaches and takes over the tree canopy. Almost all trees attacked by ivy will die prematurely.

Invasive ivies also eliminate broad swaths of diverse understory and habitat. If you have ever been on an “ivy pull” in a park or wildlife preserve, then you know how much work volunteers have to put in every year to keep ivy from turning habitat into a wasteland for native plants and wildlife.

The collective annual economic cost to public agencies and private property owners is immense—from property damage, invasive removal costs, and habitat restoration.

Stop Selling the Noxious Weed

English ivy is already listed in Washington as a Class C Noxious Weed, but that listing does not prohibit its sale. If it is added to the WSDA Prohibited Plants and Seeds List, ALL nurseries statewide (including big chain stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot and nursery wholesalers) will be prohibited from stocking and selling these destructive invasives. Note this will create virtually no economic loss to nurseries since many alternative native ground covers are widely available to sell instead.

Prohibiting the sale of ivy of course won’t stop the ivy that’s already prevalent and spreading, but it will mean that efforts to slow it down can make better progress since nurseries and buyers will no longer be actively adding to the problem. Oregon prohibited the sale of English Ivy in 2010 with great success.

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