Ohio this year banned the sale of Callery pear trees, which are crowding out native wild plants in many forests across the country.
Ohio is the first of several states taking steps to eradicate the once-popular ornamental trees known for their white spring blooms. A similar ban will take effect in South Carolina from 2024.
In 2018, Ohio gave landscapers, growers and nurseries five years’ notice that the ban was coming so they could replace their stocks without causing financial damage.
University of Cincinnati biologist Theresa Culley said pear trees, once established, are difficult to remove. UC manages a forest in southwest Ohio known as the Harris Benedict Nature Preserve where Callery pear trees sprout in clearings.
“Pear tree seedlings are also starting to appear in the forest undergrowth now. They’re very difficult to remove because they have a very long taproot,” Culley said.
Culley said the pear trees are fast growers and tolerate a variety of wet, dry, sunny or shady conditions.
“They are extremely robust. They can grow pretty much anywhere. They have abundant blooms that attract all manner of pollinators, so they end up bearing abundant fruit that disperses birds,” said Culley, UC’s chief of biological sciences.
Culley is a member of the Ohio Invasive Plants Council and a member of the Ohio Invasive Plant Advisory Committee, which advises the Ohio Department of Agriculture on regulatory issues. To date, the committee has identified more than three dozen non-native plants that cannot be sold or planted in the state because of potential economic or environmental damage. These include purple loosestrife, Japanese stilt grass, and Amur honeysuckle, another plant taking over many Ohio forests.
“The horticulture industry doesn’t want to release invasive plants if they can help it,” Culley said.
William Kyle Natorp, president and CEO of Natorp’s Cincinnati nursery, said many property owners have already replaced pear trees.
“Customer demand disappeared when it was realized that this plant was an invasive problem. Our nursery stopped producing these trees. I think most nurseries did the same,” he said.
According to Natorp, growers offer a wide range of alternatives to suit all growing conditions.
“Ideally, a tree mix is the best choice when planting multiple plants. This diversity helps protect against a future unknown disease or pest like the emerald ash borer,” Natorp said.
The emerald ash borer is an alien, 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 pursuing similar measures to curb the spread of pear trees.
“Other states have already responded in a similar way to Ohio, and I would expect this to continue statewide,” Natorp said.
UC’s Culley said Ohio is on the lookout for other looming threats from alien, invasive species. Warmer winters mean some plants creep farther north. Culley said she has a personal interest in preventing the spread of invasive species.
“I’m also a gardener, so I want to know what to plant without damaging our natural areas,” she said.
Provided by the University of Cincinnati
Citation: Ohio Outlaws Ubiquitous Pear Trees (2023, January 21) Retrieved January 21, 2023 from https://phys.org/news/2023-01-ohio-outlaws-ubiquitous-pear-trees.html
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