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!

By Colleen Vanderlinden, Planet Green


Angela N.
Angela N6 years ago


New G.
W. C7 years ago

Good to know, thanks.

mr Crowley
mr Crowley8 years ago

sounds reasonable!

Michael Cozens
Michael Cozens9 years ago

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.

Erin R.
Erin R9 years ago


Jane L9 years ago


Stuart O.
Stuart O9 years ago

Useful info, ta. Please sign:

José María Olmos Santana

thanks for the info

Heather D.
Heather D9 years ago


Freya The Wanderer
Freya H9 years ago

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!