Winona asks for volunteers to help clear invasive species

Fall Fruit Of Oriental Bittersweet
Fall fruit of Oriental bittersweet

WINONA, Minn. (WKBT) — Winona County is asking outdoor enthusiasts to help reclaim woodlands from the invasive species, Oriental Bittersweet.

The Planning and Environmental Services Department is gathering volunteers 8:30-10:30 a.m. each Friday through October to halt the spread of the invasive vine in southeastern Minnesota. The plant encircles native trees and winds its way to treetops from the forest floor, strangling them and smothering them.

The weed is hitting hardest in the Homer, Pleasant Valley area. As winter approaches and berries are produced, the easily-identifiable light orange berries attract birds that feed on them and further spread the plants.

Mature oaks, maple and pine trees are dying due to the shading and physical breakage from the vines.

The clearing events are led by interns funded by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and volunteers will be provided with hand tools and training on how to successfully remove the vines.

Volunteers will need to practice social distancing.

Call 507-457-6574 or email invasives@co.winona.mn.us to sign up.