The Christmas season brings many seasonal items conveying beauty, joy and holiday spirit to us and our homes.

Christmas trees, wreaths and firewood (in hopes that it’s cool enough to build a fire) are must-have items this time of year. What we may not consider is the dangers these items might pose on our environment, if they originate from a non-local source. Let me explain.

When buying a fresh Christmas tree, garland or wreath, inquiring as to where the plants were grown is imperative since different areas of the state and country have specific diseases and pests.

Plants moved and introduced into new locations can transfer “area- specific maladies” to unsuspecting environments not capable of fighting them. It is similar to when extended family travel from different areas of Texas or from out of state and unknowingly expose their family members to an illness or new strain of the flu that was prevalent in the area they came from.

Plants can carry pathogens and pests just like people, and once introduced, can destroy local flora and forests within a few years of introduction. The National Forest Service suggests we ask before we buy items such as these, and purchase only plants/wood from within a 50-mile radius — thus reducing the risk of inadvertent spreading of destructible agents into our community.

This year, if you don’t know where your live holiday greenery came from, dispose of it away from your property and into a landfill, where the transfer of diseases will be less likely. If you are considering purchasing firewood, make sure it’s cut locally, since it may sit out in your yard and possibly expose landscaping to foreign pests.

On a personal note, Christmas Day is only three days away, and I want to wish each of my readers a blessed holiday full of love, memories and joy.

Darla Menking is a certified Bell County Texas Master Gardener and a Texas Master Naturalist. Email her at

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