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Help Save Rock Creek's Trees

Rock Creek Conservancy has launched an initiative to save Rock Creek's trees. We're collaborating with the National Park Service and Montgomery County Parks to remove English ivy from park trees. We're also educating people about how to control ivy on trees in neighborhoods near Rock Creek.

Score Card: 12,687 trees freed!


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Tulip Poplar Covered with IvyHave you ever refused to eat, tied weights to your arms, wrapped yourself in shrink wrap, and stood outside through snow storms and heavy wind? This is what it is like for trees that get covered in non-native English ivy vines, and frankly, they just cannot handle these conditions.

  • English ivy holds onto green leaves year-round, and it's very heavy. It causes branches to break, and it even uproots whole trees when the wind blows or heavy snow accumulates.
  • English ivy attaches to the bark of the tree, which keeps the bark wet underneath. This rots the bark and attracts fungus and insects that cause tree decay.
  • English ivy starves trees by taking nutrients and water from the soil that the trees need. When the vines grow out onto branches, the leaves block sunlight from reaching tree leaves on lower branches.
  • English ivy is a "reservoir" for Bacterial Leaf Scorch (Xylella fastidiosa), a plant pathogen that is harmful to elms, oaks, maples and other native plants.
  • English ivy only flowers and makes berries once it grows up a tree or wall, and some birds, especially the non-native English sparrow, will eat these berries.  The berries are a bit toxic, and the birds spread the seeds all over parks and neighborhoods.

Invasive plants, such as English ivy, replace the native plants, eliminating food and habitat for the wildlife of the park. Wildlife has adapted over millions of years to the delicate and specific ecosystem of the park that is now being radically and suddenly altered by these plant invaders.

What are we doing about it, and how can you help?

Rock Creek Conservancy is working with park authorities to document and cut English ivy on all the trees in the park. We're also educating neighbors of the park about the problem and how to cut the ivy off the trees on their property. Please take our pledge to remove English ivy from your property and prevent its spread. 

We are also enlisting volunteers to cut ivy off all the trees, one area at a time and one property at a time. This may take years, but we're confident this will free park trees from English ivy and help reduce ivy on trees throughout the area. Click here to let us know if you would like to volunteer. You can also sign up to receive our eNews listing volunteer opportunities or check our website calendar for upcoming English ivy events.

Remember—Rock Creek is a national park, and you can't go out and cut ivy in the park on your own! You must have permission from the National Park Service. Let us know if you want to participate. We'll let you know about training and volunteer opportunities.

You can—and we hope you will—control English ivy on your own property. Let us know if you would like to help us educate other property owners about how to identify and control English ivy.

Now, some of you may be asking why just English ivy, and not the other non-native vines, such as porcelainberry, bittersweet, and kudzu? The answer is simple: we can easily train people to identify English ivy, and because we have to start somewhere, including all the invasive vines would be much more complex. We'll get there, and we know the park and volunteers are committed to controlling those vines too.

Please join us to help save Rock Creek's trees! 

Doc in a Day - Rock Creek Conservancy from Stone Soup Films on Vimeo.