It can happen innocently enough.
That attractive wreath made of natural plants sure would look nice hanging on the door for the holidays. But the berries woven in to the wreath can cause significant problems to native Iowa plants should they find their way into the environment.
Oriental bittersweet, often used to make holiday wreathes because of its attractive fruit, has been banned by the Iowa State Legislature after Gov. Terry Branstad signed the legislation into law.
“If you have wreathes made from oriental bittersweet – burn them,” said Tivon Feeley, coordinator of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources forest health program. “It is spread easily by birds and is extremely difficult to get rid of once established.”
Unfortunately, this unwanted invader has a foothold in Iowa with larger outbreaks in Cedar Rapids, Des Moines, the Loess Hills and Lake Ahquabi.
Photos of oriental bittersweet and other invasive species are available on the DNR’s website at www.iowadnr.gov/Environment/Forestry/ForestHealth/InvasivePlants.aspx
Landowners with vines on their property should contact their district forester to develop a plan get rid of it.
Unfortunately, Oriental bittersweet isn’t the only threat to Iowa woodlands.
June is Invasive Species Month, which is a national effort to raise awareness about unwanted pests threatening Iowa’s native species.
One of those threats is as close as Ohio.
Asian long horned beetle is munching its way through maples, sycamores, willows, boxelders and more. The DNR will be monitoring for this large beetle in 900 trees in the urban tree inventory that were dying or in decline, but with no identifiable reason. The Iowa Legislature provided funding to allow the DNR to survey these trees to see if Asian long horned beetle is the cause.
“Fortunately, if Asian long horned beetle ever does show up here, it is a pest that we can eliminate,” Feeley said.
These emerging threats are on top of the invaders already here: gypsy moths and emerald ash borers.
“We are tracking invasives already here and monitoring for what isn’t here,” he said.
For information on pests other than Oriental bittersweet, contact the Iowa State University Plant Diagnostic Clinic at 515-294-0581 or firstname.lastname@example.org