Oriental Bittersweet and Multiflora Rose
Oriental Bittersweet (top) and Multiflora Rose. Photos by Bill Byrne.

During holiday seasons, many people use plant material to decorate their homes or businesses. The Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (DFW) and the Department of Agricultural Resources (DAR) highly recommend that people avoid using certain exotic, invasive plants such as Oriental bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus) and Multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora) in holiday decorations. Though these plants are attractive, it is best to refrain from using them. Birds eat and carry away the fruits from wreaths and garlands and the digested but still-viable seeds sprout where deposited. Exotic, invasive plants create severe environmental damage, invading open fields, forests, wetlands, meadows, and backyards, and crowding out native plants. Bittersweet can even kill mature trees through strangling. Both plants are extremely difficult to control: when cut off, the remaining plant segment in the ground will re-sprout. It is illegal to import or sell bittersweet and multiflora rose in any form (plants or cuttings) in Massachusetts.

Backyard gardeners, nursery staff, landscapers and conservationists can learn more about invasive plants from the DFW "A Guide To Invasive Plants". In the Guide, each invasive plant description includes a photograph, the plant's regulatory status, key identification characteristics, habitats where the plant is likely to be found, type of threat the plant poses to native species and habitats, and its current distribution and place of origin. Similar plant species are also briefly described to aid in plant identification. The Guide includes definitions of three categories of invasiveness, brief explanations of how invasive plants are introduced and spread, why invasives are a problem, how to learn more about controlling invasive plants, and the state agricultural regulations regarding their importation, sale and propagation. Useful invasive plant websites are also referenced.

To purchase a guide from DFW, stop in the Field Headquarters office in Westborough during business hours or send a request to "Invasive Plant Guide," MassWildlife Field HQ, NHESP, 1Rabbit Hill Rd, Westborough, MA, 01581, and include a check for $5 (per copy) payable to: Comm. of Mass.--NHESP. Sorry, but we do not accept credit cards.