Eastern Iowa recreation area trees threatened by invasive vine - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Eastern Iowa recreation area's trees threatened by invasive vine

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DUBUQUE COUNTY (KWWL) -

Trees at one popular recreation area in eastern Iowa are being threatened by an invasive vine. Rangers at the Mines of Spain in Dubuque noticed an increase in the Oriental Bittersweet vine along recreation areas.  Park rangers say the vine has heart-shaped leaves that can vary in size. The vines also contain orange berries. Oriental Bittersweet is native to Asia, but rangers say it is very similar to a native vine in the U.S. called American Bittersweet.

"The problem is that it grows very aggressively," said park ranger Wayne Buchholtz. "Not only being invasive but it also grows fast."

Oriental Bittersweet vines are commonly used around the holiday season for wreaths and different flower arrangements.

"It is commonly used in wreaths, dried flower arrangements and sometimes Christmas decorations. Its orange berries, when it's used in that form, are still a viable seed," he said.

Buchholtz says illegal dumping of those wreaths and flower arrangements could be one of the causes for an increase in the vine since those seeds are still viable. Oriental Bittersweet is commonly known for being very invasive and aggressive. Buchholtz says the vines can be a danger to trees within the Mines of Spain for that reason. He says the vines could cover the trees, which would kill them because they block the tree's leaves from sunlight. He says park rangers have been working on ripping out Oriental Bittersweet when they can.

On August 24th, rangers are asking people to come help tear away those bittersweet vines at the Mines of Spain.

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