All About Richland

Planting Callery Pear Trees Now Forbidden In Ohio

22 Jan , 2023  

By 1812Blockhouse; ODNR

If you had plans to plant pear trees in the near future, you had best heed the latest news from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

If you already have Callery pear trees on your property, however, you can control or remove them. There is at least one Richland County property owner who may have that challenge; there may well be more.

According to ODNR, 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 the removal of existing plants, but the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Forestry encourages control and removal to benefit native forest ecosystems.

This action has been phased in over some time.

“Callery pear often dominates young, regenerating forest areas and inhibits the growth and establishment of native plant species,” Chief of the ODNR Division of Forestry Dan Balser said. “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.

Callery pear 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 also believed to be unable to reproduce by seed and bred to be sterile. However, many cultivars can cross-pollinate with each other and produce viable fruit. The most popular of those is the Callery pear is ‘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 to the Callery pear. Some potential alternatives are listed below.   

  • 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.) 
  • blackgum (Nyssa sylvatica) 

For more information on how to remove or control Callery pear in forested or natural settings, see the fact sheets available here: 

To contact your ODNR Division of Forestry State Service Forester, click here. For expert advice and assistance with the management and removal of yard trees, contact an International Society of Arboriculture (ISA)-certified arborist in your area using this website. For more information on the Ohio Department of Agriculture law restricting invasive plant species, click here.

The 2015 Natural Resource Management Plan for The Ohio State University at Mansfield, a place which is home to a wide variety of plant life, indicates that at the time Callery pear trees were on campus in the vernal pool/wetland area. The Ohio State Mansfield campus woodlands contains 600 acres with unique forests, pine plantations, and wetlands. 

Sources: ODNR, OSUM – Image by Hans Benn from Pixabay

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