Sowing Confusion Over Invasive Bittersweet

To the Editor:

I was dismayed recently to find bittersweet plants among the offerings in the garden shop of The Christmas Tree Store in Danbury. What they are selling is labeled as “native” and “non-invasive” – celastrus scandens. Technically, this is not Oriental bittersweet, Celastrus orbiclatus Thunb., the highly aggressive invasive which is overtaking the forests, roadsides, and back yards in Newtown. However, from what I have read the “non-invasive” species grows rapidly and does hybridize with Oriental bittersweet, creating more problems. Also, seeing a variety of bittersweet being mass-marketed only serves to create confusion in the minds of the public

Logan Senack, Connecticut invasive plant coordinator, said that the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is looking into the sales issue further because there may be confusion as to which plant is being sold.

Given that bittersweet is so damaging to our environment (it can and does take down trees), the thought of planting even a close “cousin” makes no sense to me. And considering the uncertainty of what is actually being sold, please consider alternatives when choosing plants for your garden this year.

Mary Wilson

12 Whippoorwill Hill Road, Newtown             April 16, 2014

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