If you haven’t heard about the issue with Callery Pear trees or “Bradford Pear”, you are about to.
Have you driven down the freeway here in Ohio in early spring and wondered what those white blooming trees are that seem to be everywhere? If not, pay attention to the trees around April-May timeframe, and you’re bound to begin noticing the immense number of white-blooming trees with that distinct upright form that you see very often planted in front yards, street islands, etc.
What you may not notice, or be aware of, is that many of those areas did not have Callery Pear trees planted there. They sprouted by spreading of their seeds when birds eat the fruit, and then spread the seeds through their manure in other areas.
What happened and is happening now? Let’s rewind a bit.
Callery Pear trees are Native to Asia, were imported to help with fireblight resistance in our fruiting Pear trees. The experiment didn’t work well in relation to our fruiting Pear trees, but while working with that project, they discovered some characteristics that seemed to be very promising for a landscape tree, and the ‘Bradford’ pear tree was born out of that. It was considered a near-perfect tree. Because of genetic self-incompatibility, it did not fruit, it has beautiful fall color, glossy leaves, snowy white flowers, and is very disease resistant.
As such, it was promoted and used very widely as street trees, front yard trees (mhm…bringing images to your mind?), and is almost everywhere it seems.
Once these trees began to mature though, their flaws began to show through. Because of their fast growth and very steep crotch angles (that sharply upright growth of the limbs) which results in a lot of bark being included in the branch union, they are very weak and susceptible to limb breakage, and wind and snow damage.
Other varieties of the Pear tree that were developed for stronger branching began to crosspollinate and to produce fruit. The birds come along, eat the fruit, fly away and discharge the seeds, and voila, you have a very weak and messy tree, that is fast growing and very disease resistant spreading all over the country.
Most of the Pear trees you will see along interstates, open fields, wetlands, etc., are trees that “escaped” from the parent trees as we’ve mentioned earlier.
After attempts to breed a stronger tree has only added fuel to the fire of problems with these trees, All Callery Pear trees are illegal to sell, grow, or plant in Ohio as of Jan 1st 2023 due to its invasiveness.
If you have Callery Pear trees on your property, we highly recommend talking with a certified arborist or landscaping company to discuss removing those trees and replacing with native trees that are not a threat to nearby structures and vehicles, or our environmental health.
For more reading material on this topic, check out https://ohiodnr.gov/discover-and-learn/plants-trees/invasive-plants/callery-pear, or https://bygl.osu.edu/index.php/node/1476
We would be glad to meet with you if you live around the Dayton Ohio area to discuss removal and replacement of your Callery Pear trees, or to discuss planting trees around your new or existing home or business that are native to the Eastern US.
Thanks for reading, and as always, feel free to reach out. – Jeremy Cable @ Cable Bros Outdoor Services