The Department of Natural Resources is urging Iowans not to use Oriental bittersweet in holiday decorations.
The woody vine with its bright red berries is attractive as a holiday decoration, but the berries on Oriental bittersweet vine are viable seeds capable of spreading the unwanted plant.
The aggressive vine, native to Asia, climbs trees, slowing the growth or killing the tree by blocking light from the forest canopy.
Instead, use American bittersweet, which is native to Iowa. To tell the difference, check the fruit location on the vine.
American bittersweet only has fruit at the tip of the stem. Oriental bittersweet has fruit and flowers along the length of the stem.
Currently, it is not illegal to sell or distribute oriental bittersweet in Iowa.
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