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Beware of this Invasive Species this Holiday Season

Beware of this Invasive Species this Holiday Season

For those of us who like to incorporate a bit of nature into our holiday décor, bittersweet wreaths seem like a good option. Their vibrant red berries provide the perfect accent to our front door.

The only problem is that most of these wreaths are made with non-native bittersweet, which is an invasive species. These wreaths are often thrown in the trash or into the compost pile once the season is over. The issue is that the berries, like all berries, contain seeds. The berries are eaten by birds, who deposit the seeds everywhere, worsening the problem. If you compost them, you’ll inevitably have invasive bittersweet sprouting in your compost pile. Our native bittersweet is very well-behaved and just as beautiful, but because of the wide availability of the non-native bittersweet due to its fast growth, most wreaths are made with the non-native variety.

Eco-Friendly Alternatives to Bittersweet

1. Grapevine wreaths have a great natural look, and can easily be spiffed up with berries, evergreen clippings, or bows. They can also be composted when you’re done using them.

2. If you have access to a willow tree, you can snip some of the long, flexible branches and make a willow wreath in any shape you’d like.

3. Make a simple evergreen wreath with clippings from the evergreens in your yard.

4.If you have access to a sweet gum tree, their pods look gorgeous on a wreath.

5. Pinecones and moss evoke a woodsy, rustic holiday.

6. Try these other natural holiday decorating tips.

To get that pop of color that the bittersweet berries provide, you can use holly berries, cranberries (strung or stuck into the wreath individually with wires) crab apples, or rose hips.

Do your local wildlife a favor this holiday season, and avoid bittersweet in your decorating!

Read more: Christmas, Do Good, Green, Green Decorating, Hanukkah, Holidays, Life, Nature

By Colleen Vanderlinden, Planet Green

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Megan, selected from Planet Green

Planet Green is the multi-platform media destination devoted to the environment and dedicated to helping people understand how humans impact the planet and how to live a more environmentally sustainable lifestyle. Its two robust websites, and, offer original, inspiring, and entertaining content related to how we can evolve to live a better, brighter future. Planet Green is a division of Discovery Communications.


+ add your own
1:30PM PDT on Jun 16, 2012


10:15PM PST on Jan 10, 2012

Good to know, thanks.

12:32PM PDT on Jul 7, 2010

sounds reasonable!

6:59PM PST on Mar 11, 2010

A great idea - more awareness about invasive species is a definite must. I wonder if some sort of labelling program could be implemented to alert consumers.

1:23PM PST on Jan 26, 2010


6:26PM PST on Jan 25, 2010


9:39AM PST on Jan 16, 2010

Useful info, ta. Please sign:

11:07AM PST on Jan 10, 2010

thanks for the info

4:23PM PST on Jan 1, 2010


3:26PM PST on Jan 1, 2010

Good advice! A lot of invasive species, such as zebra mussels, kudzu and Burmese pythons, are wreaking havoc - and they are blamed hard to stop!

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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