DNR: Invasive pests can hitchhike on festive foliage, so dispose of Christmas foliage and trees properly

Holiday greens and Christmas trees are fun all season, but can also hide dangerous hitchhikers. Diseases and invasive species can invade our landscapes on trees and branches brought to Minnesota from other states.

Among the pests of concern is the elongated hemlock, a small insect that resides in the eastern United States, where many decorative fraser firs are grown. Feeding damage from this invasive insect can cause hemlock, fir, and spruce needles to turn yellow and fall off prematurely. Box rot and oriental bittersweet, which can sometimes be found on wreaths and centerpieces, can also endanger native trees and other landscaping. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) has more information about these threats.

To help protect our environment, the state of Minnesota encourages residents to properly dispose of greenery and trees after the holiday season.

  • The best option is to use a roadside tree collection or bring trees to a specific drop off point. Inquire with your waste transport company, your city or your district, which services are offered in your area. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has a map of garden waste compost locations; Contact the locations directly to see if they accept trees and green spaces.
  • Don’t throw trees or foliage in backyard forests or your compost heap as this will increase the infestation.
  • You can dispose of wreaths and other decorative greenery in rubbish bins.
  • If your city or county doesn’t have an organized pickup or drop-off, your last resort is to burn the greens. Always check and follow local ordinances first.

If you suspect an invasive insect or disease has infested your green or tree, call 1-888-545-6684, [email protected], or use the online reporting facility to the MDA hotline for pest control.

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