Somebody or somebodies in the Teign Valley, Castle Drogo area has taken it upon themselves to wage war on ivy. We find large ivy stems on our trees sawn through along the sides of footpaths.
We have had letters of complaint from knowledgeable people ''Why is the National Trust cutting and killing ivy on its trees''. We have to answer ''Its not us''.
There are people out there who have a very negative view of ivy. They believe it kills trees.
Ivy is a remarkable plant.
- Its evergreen luscious leaves are a valuable food source for many herbivorous animals in the winter especially deer.
- Its black berries are high in protein and an invaluable food source to many birds and small mammals.
- Its dense stems and thick leaf cover protect all sorts of overwintering butterflies, bats small mammals and insects.
- In spring the stems provide ideal sheltered nest sites for birds.
- The late flowers provide an important nectar and pollen source for bees and other insects long after most other flowers have disappeared.
- On big old ivy stems very rare lichens grow, there and nowhere else a partnership developed over thousands of years.
- We cut sprigs to make wreaths and to decorate our homes with at Christmas.
- We write hymns about it along with its woodland colleague the holly.
- Often the vandals are not good with tools and damage the bark of the tree when cutting ivy leading to sap bleeding and possible infection.
There are those that think it strangles trees. NO it expands with the trees girth, unlike the strangling but much prettier honeysuckle.
It feeds off the tree, NO ivy is not a parasite it only uses the tree for support.
OK foresters hate ivy when felling and converting timber with a chainsaw it is a pain.
OK at times of heavy wet snow like the year before last it can lead to trees limbs breaking.
OK as an evergreen its leaves can act as a sail in exposed sites and can lead to trees with allot of ivy blowing over. This is the only time that I would take ivy from a tree is there was allot of ivy on a valuable ancient tree in an exposed spot.
A well known entomologist said '' cutting ivy from a tree is an act of vandalism.'' this has been slightly modified to ''cutting mature ivy from a tree is an act of vandalism'' after input from lichen specialist who argue that young ivy moving onto a tree with valuable lichen populations should be removed to. Goes to show nothing is that clear cut in the natural world.
If you see anybody cutting ivy with a little saw around the National Trust land on Dartmoor please ask them to stop.