It is now illegal to sell, grow or plant Callery pear, also known as Bradford pear, in Ohio because of its invasive qualities and likelihood to cause economic or environmental harm. There is no requirement for removing existing plants, however, the Division of Forestry encourages control and removal to benefit native forest ecosystems.
“Callery pear often dominates young, regenerating forest areas and inhibits the growth and establishment of native plant species,” said Dan Balser , Division of Forestry chief. “Halting the further sale and intentional propagation of Callery pear will help reduce the further introduction of this environmentally harmful tree species.”
Callery pear is an ornamental species native to regions of Asia. It was introduced to North America in the early 1900s for agricultural use. It quickly became a favorite in landscaping for its adaptability, flowering, fall color and rounded crown.
It is most easily spotted in early spring, when it blooms with white flowers along highways, yards and fields and other disturbed sites. The rounded leaves are dark green with a shiny upper surface and arranged alternately.
The leaf margin is wavy and finely serrated. The white flowers are clustered with five petals, and blooms typically have a strong, unpleasant smell, often compared to rotting fish. Tiny, hard pears appear in the fall. The brown fruit is almost woody until frost softens it. After that, the fruits are eaten by birds who spread the seeds.
The tree was believed to be unable to reproduce by seed and was bred to be sterile. However, many cultivars can cross-pollinate with each other and produce viable fruit. The most popular is the Callery pear Bradford. Other common species include Cleveland Select, Autumn Blaze, Chanticleer and Whitehouse.
Depending on site conditions, Ohioans may consider using tree species native to the eastern United States with similar characteristics such as serviceberry (Amelanchier spp.), eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis), chokecherry (Prunus virginiana), American plum (Prunus americana), flowering dogwood (Cornus florida), eastern hophornbeam (Ostrya virginiana), American hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana), yellowwood (Cladrastis kentukea), hawthorn (Crataegus spp.) or blackgum (Nyssa sylvatica).
More information on how to remove or control Callery pear in forested or natural settings, can be found in fact sheets available online, Controlling Undesirable Trees, Shrubs, and Vines in Your Woodland, and Herbicides Commonly Used for Controlling Undesirable Trees, Shrubs, and Vines in Your Woodland.
To contact your ODNR Division of Forestry State Service Forester, click here.