Holiday greenery and Christmas trees bring joy throughout the season, but they can also hide dangerous hitchhikers. Diseases and invasive species can make their way into our landscapes on trees and boughs brought into Minnesota from other states.
Pests of concern include elongate hemlock scale, a small insect established in the eastern U.S. where many decorative Fraser firs are grown. Feeding damage from this invasive insect can cause the needles of hemlocks, firs, and spruces to yellow and prematurely drop. Also, boxwood blight and Oriental bittersweet, sometimes found on wreaths and centerpieces, can endanger native trees and other landscaping. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) has more information on these threats.
To protect our environment, the State of Minnesota is asking residents to properly dispose of greenery and trees after the holiday season.
- The best option is to use a curbside tree collection or bring trees to a designated drop-off site. Check with your waste hauler, city, or county to see what services are offered in your area. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has a map of yard waste compost locations; contact locations directly to see if they accept trees and greenery.
- Do not toss trees and greenery into backyard woods or your residential compost pile, which will propagate the infestation.
- Wreaths and other decorative greens can be disposed in trashcans.
- If your city or county does not have an organized pick-up or drop-off, the last resort would be to burn the greens. Always check with local ordinances first and follow them.
If you suspect your greenery or tree may be infested with an invasive insect or disease, contact the MDA’s Arrest the Pest line at 1-888-545-6684, email@example.com, or through the online reporting form.
Allen Sommerfeld, MDA Communications
Kevin Coss, MPCA Communications