Updated: Monday, 26 Nov 2012, 5:59 PM EST
Published : Monday, 26 Nov 2012, 4:20 PM EST
STORRS, Conn. (WTNH) -- If you're decking the halls this week state environmental officials want to make sure you aren't using a certain type of plant they call invasive and which could hurt the environment.
"It's got bright red berries in the fall with some of these yellow coverings," explained Logan Senack of DEEP. The berries are decorative but the vine can be deadly.
"This is a vine that destroys trees by strangling them or girdling them as the plants grow larger."
First introduced into the US in 1860 this native plant of China, Korea, and Japan soon took over other trees. It curls around tree branches on the UConn campus and after thirty years it can grown big and damaging.
"If it's on a tree it can certainly bring down tree limbs and damage the tree."
DEEP is warning folks not to use this invasive plant in holiday decorations like wreaths. In fact, it is illegal to sell or move the vine or its seeds. Violators facing fines of $50 per plant.
At Mackey's in Willimantic, they use artificial berries on their wreaths and sell other alternatives to Bittersweet.
"You can get the winter berries or holly berries," Diane Therrien explained.
Oriental Bittersweet is so invasive it is growing right at the end of their parking lot.
"And it's in my yard and it goes up the trees really full and it's very hard to get rid of," said Melissa Gerich.
If you do find this vine in your wreath or even in your backyard the best way to get rid of it is to simply put it in the trash because these days most trash is incinerated. What you don't want to do is throw it somewhere outside or compost it. That could make this problem plant even more of a problem.