Ohio this year banned the sale of Callery pear trees that are crowding out the native wild plants in many forests across the country.
Ohio is the first of several states to take steps to eradicate the once-popular ornamental trees, known for their white blossoms in the spring. A similar ban will take effect in South Carolina starting in 2024.
In 2018, Ohio gave landscapers, growers and nurseries five years’ notice that a ban was coming so they could replenish their stocks without causing financial damage.
University of Cincinnati biologist Theresa Culley said that once established, pear trees are difficult to remove. UC manages a forest in southwestern Ohio known as the Harris Benedict Nature Preserve, where Callery pear trees are sprouting in clearings.
“Pear seedlings are now also appearing in the forest understory. They are very difficult to remove because they have a very long taproot,” Culley said.
Culley said pear trees grow quickly and tolerate a variety of wet, dry, sunny or shady conditions.
“They’re extremely hardy. They can grow pretty much anywhere. They have abundant flowers that attract all types of pollinators, so they end up with abundant fruit that birds disperse,” said Culley, head of the UC Department of Biological Sciences.
Culley serves on the Ohio Board of Invasive Plants and is also a member of the Ohio Invasive Plant Advisory Committee, which advises the Ohio Department of Agriculture on regulation. To date, the committee has identified more than three dozen non-native plants that cannot be sold or planted in the state because of their potential to cause economic or environmental harm. These include purple dragonfly, Japanese-style grass, and amur honeysuckle, another plant that is taking over many Ohio forests.
“The nursery industry doesn’t want to release invasive plants if they can help it,” Culley said.
William Kyle Natorp, president and CEO of Cincinnati Natorp’s nursery, said many homeowners have already replaced pear trees.
“Customer demand disappeared when it was realized that this plant was an invasive issue. Our nursery stopped producing these trees. I think most nurseries did the same,” he said.
Natorp said growers offer a wide selection of alternatives to suit any growing condition.
“Ideally, a mixture of trees is the best choice when planting multiple plants. This diversity helps protect against an unknown future disease or pest, such as the emerald ash borer,” said Natorp.
The emerald borer is a non-native invasive beetle that has killed tens of millions of trees in 30 states, according to the US Department of Agriculture.
South Carolina and Pennsylvania are taking similar measures to contain the spread of pear trees.
“Other states have responded similarly to Ohio and I expect that to continue across the country,” Natorp said.
UC’s Culley said Ohio is mindful of other looming threats from non-native invasive species. Warmer winters mean some plants are creeping further north. Culley said he has a personal interest in preventing the spread of invasive species.
“I’m also a gardener, so I want to know what to plant and not harm our natural areas,” she said.
Provided by the University of Cincinnati
Quote: Ohio Outlaws Omnipresent Pear Trees (2023, Jan 21) Retrieved Jan 21, 2023 from https://phys.org/news/2023-01-ohio-outlaws-ubiquitous-pear-trees.html
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