The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) is asking Minnesotans to properly dispose of Christmas Trees and holiday greens to protect our trees and forests. Diseases and invasive species can find their way to Minnesota on Christmas trees and other holiday greenery grown in other states. If you just throw a Christmas Tree or wreath into a wooded area you may be spreading a disease or invasive insect.

For example, many decorative Fraser firs are grown in the eastern United States that could be infected with the elongate hemlock scale. It is a small insect that can cause the needles of hemlocks, firs, and spruces to yellow and prematurely drop. In addition the boxwood blight and Oriental bittersweet are sometimes found on wreaths or centerpieces that can pose a threat to our native trees and other landscaping.

Here are the recommendations directly from the MDA news release!

  • 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.

Finally, if you think your Christmas tree or greenery could be infested with an invasive insect or maybe a disease you should contact the MDA's Arrest the Pest line. Their phone number is 1-888-545-6684 or you can email: arrest.the.pest@state.mn.us. It sure would be a shame to see Minnesota's firs and spruce trees die because we were careless!

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