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Holiday Decorations Can Turn Into Nasty Invasive Plants

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With the holidays nearing, a DNR expert hopes homeowners and decorators avoid two invasive plants that have been used historically in Thanksgiving and other floral arrangements.

DNR spokesperson Matthew Wallrath says there are a number of species out there that have been used in autumn and holiday wreaths that pose a threat to wildlife areas.

Wallrath says there are suitable, and native, alternatives... 

"...One of the classics is oriental bittersweet which is a vine that Martha Stewart loves. It has the beautiful bright yellow sheath around it's bright red berries. Once this plant escapes into the woods will wrap itself around trees and strangle them to death as well as connecting them. When one(tree) falls then there's a big opening in the forest. It's very aggressive and hard to get rid of once established...."

He says an acceptable alternative is American bittersweet which has the same color and isn't as destructive. The second common plant is multiflora rose that is non-native and has lots of rose hips. He says this plant is also very aggressive in the wild and take over areas, out-competing native plants.

Wallrath says consumers can identify acceptable plants on line at the DNR website...

"...We do have a bunch of resources on the DNR website. If you have a plant, you know what it is you can type it into the search field and up will pop its status, if it's regulated or prohibited inb some way and get you an idea how to ID it, what kind of damage it does to the environment and also a list of look-alikes and alternatives you can use..."

The state regulates the importation and sale of more than 140 plants that have been identified as invasive to Wisconsin. Wallrath says vendors should know what is acceptable and prohibited.

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