Ag leaders warn consumers to look out for invasive weed in holiday decorationsAs Minnesotans decorate their homes for the holiday season, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) is asking them to watch for Oriental bittersweet, an invasive weed easily mistaken for a common decorative holiday vine called American bittersweet.
As Minnesotans decorate their homes for the holiday season, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) is asking them to watch for Oriental bittersweet, an invasive weed easily mistaken for a common decorative holiday vine called American bittersweet.
Oriental bittersweet is native to parts of Asia and is established in many eastern states. It has been found in the Twin Cities, Red Wing and Winona. The vine is sometimes collected for use in wreaths and other decorative arrangements due to its bright fruit. However, this attractive indoor garland turns ugly in a forest environment by strangling and smothering trees. When established, it can dominate the forest canopy, reduce forest productivity, and block sunlight from understory plants.
“Oriental bittersweet is considered a serious threat to our forests based on what it has done in eastern states,” said MDA Invasive Plant Specialist Monika Chandler. “You don’t want this vine on your property if you can avoid it, so be wary if that bittersweet you’re using to decorate this season has fruit capsules that are yellow instead of orange.”
Oriental bittersweet plants spread when people inadvertently transport the vines or seeds, or even plant them on their property, mistaking them for the desirable native and non-invasive American bittersweet. While American and Oriental bittersweets have red fruit and look very similar, they are easy to distinguish in winter by the color of their fruit capsules, which surround the red fruit. American bittersweet has orange fruit capsules, while Oriental bittersweet has yellow fruit capsules.
Since Oriental bittersweet is a prohibited noxious weed on the state’s eradication list, all parts of the plant must be destroyed. To help prevent the spread of this nasty vine, MDA is asking Minnesotans who find Oriental bittersweet in holiday decorations to bag or burn the materials. Also, sale or transportation of the weed is not allowed.
Minnesotans who believe they have found Oriental bittersweet infestations can contact MDA’s Arrest the Pest Hotline at 1-888-545-6684. Potential detections can also be reported to MDA staff by email at Arrest.the.Pest@state.mn.us.