Plant Pest Insider Newsletter - Holiday Greenery Precautions

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A Newsletter from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture

November 24, 2021

Holiday Greenery Precautions

Insects and diseases can hitchhike on trees and holiday greenery brought into Minnesota from other states. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) inspects holiday products for elongate hemlock scale, boxwood blight, oriental bittersweet, Lymantria dispar (gypsy moth), and many more. You can learn more about all of the pests and proper disposal of holiday greens on the MDA Holiday Greenery Best Management Practices webpage. 

If you see any signs of the following pests or others on your holiday greenery, please contact the MDA

Elongate Hemlock Scale

Elongate hemlock scale (Fiorinia externa) is found almost exclusively on the underside of conifer needles. Given their small size and inconspicuous appearance, the elongate hemlock scale may appear to be dirt or debris to the untrained eye. 

elongate hemlock scale

Elongate hemlock scaleMDA

Oriental Bittersweet

Oriental bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus) vines have been used in holiday decorations and other crafting items for many years. Fruiting branches, which have red berries and yellow fruit capsules, make wreaths charming but easily spread seed. Oriental bittersweet is designated as a noxious weed on Minnesota's Eradicate List. If craft arrangements, such as wreaths, are placed outside, birds can eat the fruit and move the seed to new locations.

Oriental bittersweet

Oriental bittersweet fruit. MDA

Lymantria dispar (formerly known as "gypsy moth")

Lymantria dispar lay their eggs in protected areas on both natural and artificial surfaces. Christmas trees can have egg masses on trunks and branches. Egg masses are quarter-sized fuzzy, tan colored and contain 500 - 1,000 eggs. 

Gypsy moth egg mass on conifer tree.

Lymantria dispar egg mass on a conifer tree. MDA

Boxwood Blight

Holiday wreaths, garlands, and planters often contain shoots from boxwood plants. Boxwood is an evergreen shrub with dark green, rounded leaves. Boxwood blight is caused by the invasive fungus Calonectria pseudonaviculata. This disease causes leaf spots, stem lesions, and leaf drop in boxwoods. 

Leaf spot symptom of boxwood blight

Boxwood blight leaf spots. MDA

Minnesota Grown Directory

The Minnesota Grown Directory is a great resource to find local evergreen trees, holiday greenery, and more. Visit to learn more.

Christmas trees in a field

MDA Certified Heat Treated Firewood logo VOID

Minnesota Certified Firewood

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture has certified 12 firewood producers in the state of Minnesota for heat treatment of firewood. Look for the logo when purchasing firewood. It means the firewood is safe to move and is free of harmful pests like emerald ash borer.

Certified firewood producers:

  • Emily Forest Products / Katie's Firewood
  • Minnesota Firewood LLC
  • Moonlight Firewood
  • Northstar Hardwoods Inc.
  • Paul's Fireplace Wood Inc.
  • Price Firewood
  • Pro Cut Firewood
  • Stoked Firewood
  • Sunset Firewood Company
  • TSL Firewood
  • WLC Firewood
  • Wood Chuckers Firewood LLC
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