Bittersweet invading southeastern Minnesota - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

By Chris Conte

Bittersweet invading southeastern Minnesota

WINONA (KTTC-DT)-- Minnesota Department of Agriculture officials say an invasive plant sometimes used as a Christmas decoration is threatening the dense forest along the Mississippi in Winona and other parts of southeastern Minnesota.

The plant is commonly known as Oriental Bittersweet and officials say it's easily identifiable by its red fruit and yellow leaves.

"It could overwhelm the forest system," says Monika Chandler an Invasive Plant Specialist for the MDA.

Bittersweet first started growing on the east coast and has slowly made its way across the country, "We know that birds can spread it, we know that people move it," Chandler adds.

While it might look pretty, Chandler says the plant strangles trees and blocks out light to other plants in the woods, eventually killing them.

"If we can contain it and control it that's certainly a goal," Chandler adds about the plants.

The biggest problem, according to Chandler, is that people see bittersweet along the side of the road and think it's pretty, so they clip it and take it home for a Christmas Wreath.

If you spot Bittersweet in your backyard, you're asked to call the MDA's Arrest the Pest hotline at 1-888-545-6684.

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