Callery pear trees to be added to Ohio invasive plant list in 2023

You will not be allowed to buy, sell or grow Callery pear trees starting in January
Callery pear trees to be added to Ohio invasive plant list in 2023
Published: Apr. 9, 2022 at 10:51 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 10, 2022 at 10:56 AM EDT
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - The Callery pear tree, which was once thought to be a decorative and easy-to-care tree, is now on a list of invasive plants that will not be allowed to be planted in Ohio starting in January 2023.

This is the strange case of of the Callery pear tree - Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

The Dr. Jekyll, or the positives, of this tree were the fact that they were resistant to disease, have decorative spring and fall colors and grew in poor soils.

They were especially sought after because experts noticed the trees couldn’t self-pollinate between the same cultivars.

Cultivars are the “subtype” of the Callery pear tree: for example, Bradford, Aristocrat and Cleveland Select pear trees are all Callery pear trees.

Hindsight is 20/20 because even tree experts recommended this tree due to all of the pros above. This tree species has negatives, and this is why officials are taking action starting next year.

In 2007, Dr. Theresa Culley at the University of Cincinnati published a groundbreaking scientific paper that highlights the issue.

The Mr. Hyde part of this, or the negatives, is that the different cultivars could cross-pollinate and generate seeds and spread rapidly.

Joe Boggs, Assistant Professor at The Ohio State University Extension in Hamilton County says, “They are crowding out everything. It would be very hard to get any of the native plants to grow in there (the forest). They will even crowd out the bush honeysuckles, another very bad, non-native invasive. So the main issue is upsetting our ecosystems.”

And this is why the Callery pear tree will be added to the invasive plants list in Ohio next January -- meaning you won’t be allowed to buy, sell or grow this tree.

Boggs suggests to stop planting them now if you can.

“Long term is we’re probably going to be dealing with this challenge forever,” adding to the uphill battle maintaining this invasive species.

If you have these trees and plan on cutting them down, plan on treating them with herbicide, otherwise you’ll have re-sprouts and the problem will become worse.

Boggs also says you don’t need to cut down your tree because of this issue - citing that it won’t make much of a difference to what will be a problem for a long time.

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