Friday, October 14, 2011

Ivy: Does it Strangle Trees?

I am actually now back in Los Angeles, but I still have a lot of catching up to do from when I was in Wales. There the ivy was rampant on the trees, who's characters it completely changed according to the pattern of its growth.

It has often been said that ivy strangles trees, but this seems to be a misconception. Ivy naturally reaches for the sun, needing it to gain sufficient levels of photosynthesis. In this process, if it covers the crown of the canopy it can affect the photosynthesis of its host and it can- by covering the trunk- create a humid environment where fungus or bacterial organisms can flourish. However, the general opinion seems to be that the tree will only suffer seriously from this if it is already declining. On the plus side- apart from the decorative- ivy can support many forms of wildlife, such as providing roosting, hibernating and nesting sanctuary for animals, birds and insects.

The trees I am about to show here are all around Manorbier, where I was staying in Wales, and because of the prevalence of Sycamores there, most of the trees are Sycamores.

As result of the fear of ivy damaging trees, people will often cut its stems near the base of the tree. This will cause the ivy gradually to die, the host being left with a tracery of dead stems, as in the next three images:

I like the fact that you can see the pattern on the bark of this tree where the ivy once grew, while another stem is still alive:

Now for a contrast- a tree trunk smothered in blossoming growth:

And there is something wonderful about an ivy-smothered wood...

this wood reminding me of Lewis Carol's descriptive phrase of a "tulgey wood" in his Jabberwockey:

Whereas this next display seems to be a delightful peace of design:

And on these next two images I love the different textures of ivy, lichen and moss:

This seems to me to be another example of an ivy design project:

Here the bark of the Sycamore is gleaming from Welsh rain, a contrast to the elegant strands of ivy:

And here again it is the juxtaposition of the bark and the ivy that appeals to me:

Now, apart from being decorative, ivy on a tree can be quite spooky, as I find in the following images:

Finally, walking up a lane surrounded by ivy-covered tree trunks, at first I thought this was yet another one- until I raised my eyes and saw it was a telegraph pole!

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