Those seeking natural additions to their holiday decorations, should beware of using   invasive plants such as Oriental bittersweet and instead consider native plants.

With its attractive orange berries, Oriental bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus) is  sometimes been used in holiday decorations, including wreaths. Unfortunately this highly invasive woody vine that can wrap around trees, damaging and sometimes killing them. The extra weight from Oriental bittersweet on limbs 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.

One alternative is winterberry holly, with its bright, red berries.

Selling or moving Oriental bittersweet is prohibited by state law. Fines for violations of the law are listed at $50 per plant.

Anyone who finds invasive plants such as bittersweet for sale in Connecticut is asked to call the Connecticut Invasive Plant Coordinator at 860-208-3900 (email: logan.senack@ct.gov). For more information about Oriental bittersweet and other invasive plants in Connecticut, visit cipwg.uconn.edu.