The Dec. 12 Home section article extolling the merits of English ivy in the garden neglected to tell the readers that English ivy is now one of the most abundant and widespread invasive plants in the eastern United States. English ivy is no friend of trees -- or any other plant species indigenous to the Washington area. It simply out-competes and overwhelms every native plant species, thus destroying the diverse habitat necessary for wildlife. A rapacious evergreen and ever-growing alien, it sucks water, devours nutrients, kidnaps every speck of light and suppresses seedlings. If unchallenged, it will become the climax species of Eastern woodlands.
Hostile habitat plants like ivy reduce the amount of urban forest (a forest includes all plants, such as ground-level species and shrubs as well as trees) available for the area's wildlife. In addition to green spaces, wildlife needs a healthy urban forest in the network of yards and gardens, especially as development increases. Drive through Rock Creek Park, and you can see ivy growing up every tree in the park. In a few years, all of these trees will be lost, and we will have an ivy forest. Homeowners may think that ivy growing up their trees is beautiful, but what they are really doing is destroying the trees in our urban forest.
-- Anne Little