Southeastern Wisconsin Invasive Species Consortium, Inc.


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Natural Holiday Decorations

teasel and phrag 2 smallCourtesy of our native winter landscape

It’s the Ho-Ho-Holidays and let’s make an effort this year to encourage the use of native plant species for decorating our homes, businesses and public areas. Unfortunately, invasive plant species such as oriental bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculata), baby’s breath (Gypsophila paniculata) and teasel (Dipsacus spp.) are often favored for decorating because they look festive in bouquets, wreaths, and with evergreens in holiday planters.

Pine spruce red osier and pineconesIf, while shopping, visiting and celebrating this season, you happen upon these or other invasive species used in public or private holiday arrangements, please take the opportunity to tactfully explain to the owner that they are not good choices because they often hold viable seeds that can unintentionally spread the species. Ask that the invasive plant material be disposed of properly and offer ideas for festive native alternatives such as red osier dogwood (Cornus stolonifera), white cedar (Thuja occidentalis), native club moss or ground pine (Lycopodium spp.) and winter berry (Ilex verticillata). Many grocery and garden stores offer these native species. Speckled alder (Alnus incana), and common carrion-flower (Smilax herbacea) also make great native decorating choices. Alder has extraordinary tiny fruiting structures that look like miniature pine cones, while carrion-flower fruit clusters are spectacular globes that dry very well and can last for years when stored properly.

Smilax-herbacea-1-RHWAlnus rugosa Cone1Encourage your friends, family and neighbors to get outside and gather some native moss, pinecones, branches, fruits, vines and twigs from their own winter landscape to design natural holiday decorations for their homes.

Proper disposal methods for invasive plant materials can be found at:

You can also report the use of invasive plant materials in southeastern Wisconsin year-round to SEWISC at: or directly to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources at: