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Alert issued on using invasive plants for decoration

Published 1:08 pm, Thursday, December 19, 2013
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The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is asking Connecticut residents and decorators to consider alternatives to invasive plants, such as Oriental bittersweet, this holiday season.

Oriental bittersweet has sometimes been used in holiday decorations, including wreaths. Unfortunately, Oriental bittersweet is a highly invasive woody vine that can wrap around trees, damaging and sometimes killing them. The extra weight from Oriental bittersweet can also cause limb drop, contributing to damage and power outages. Use of the vines in decorations helps spread seeds of the plant to new locations. Additionally, improper disposal of the decorations, either outdoors or in compost after the holiday season, can contribute to the spread of bittersweet.

"There are many alternatives to invasive plants that may be used for holiday decorations" Logan Senack, invasive plant coordinator for Connecticut, said. "Often, local florist and greenhouse growers are able to provide attractive and interesting alternatives to bittersweet and other invasives. These include native plants that are not invasive, such as winterberry holly. Selling or moving Oriental bittersweet is also prohibited by state law."

The law, which went into effect in 2004, prohibits the moving, selling, purchasing, transplanting, cultivating or distributing of 80 invasive plant species, including Oriental bittersweet, in Connecticut. This prohibition extends to seeds, flowers and other reproductive portions of the plants. Fines for violations of the law are listed at $50 per plant.

Individuals who find invasive plants for sale in Connecticut are asked to contact the DEEP at 860-208-3900.

For more information, visit www.cipwg.uconn.edu.