Dispose of Christmas tree properly to avoid spreading invasive species, Minnesota agriculture officials say

Ahead of the Christmas holiday, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture is reminding residents to dispose of their trees properly, as to avoid the spread of invasive species.

According to a release from the MDA, certain pests can pose a threat to the state's urban and rural trees. For example, the elongate elongate hemlock scale, a small insect established in the eastern U.S. where many decorative Fraser firs are grown, can cause the needles of hemlocks, firs, and spruces to yellow and prematurely drop. Boxwood blight and Oriental bittersweet--sometimes found on wreaths and centerpieces--can also endanger native trees and other landscaping.

The MDA is reminding residents that the best way to dispose of your tree is to use a curbside tree collection or bring the tree to a designated drop-off site. Check with your waste hauler, city, or county to see what services are offered in your area.

Do not toss trees and greenery into backyard woods or your residential compost pile which could allow hitchhiking pests to escape. Wreaths and other decorative greens, however, can be disposed in trash cans.

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 or arrest.the.pest@state.mn.us.