Ohio Outlaws Ubiquitous Pear Trees

Ohio Outlaws Ubiquitous Pear Trees

Ohio becomes the first state to ban the sale of invasive pear trees

University of Cincinnati professor Theresa Culley says Callery pear trees planted in Ohio neighborhoods are sprouting up in forests across the state. Ohio banned the sale of pear trees starting this year. Credit: Joseph Fuqua II/UC

This year, Ohio banned the sale of Callery pear trees that are displacing native wild plants in many forests across the country.

Ohio is the first of several states taking action to eradicate once-popular ornamental trees known for their white spring flowers. A similar ban will take effect in South Carolina beginning in 2024.

In 2018, Ohio gave landscapers, growers, and nurseries five years in advance that the ban was coming so they could replace their inventories without financial damage.

University of Cincinnati biologist Theresa Culley said that once established, pear trees are difficult to eliminate. UC manages a forest in southwestern Ohio known as the Harris Benedict Nature Reserve, where Callery pear trees are sprouting in the clearings.

“Pear seedlings are now appearing in the understory of the forest as well. They are very difficult to remove because they have a very long tap root,” Culley said.

Culley said pear trees grow quickly and tolerate a variety of conditions that are wet, dry, sunny or shady.

“They are extremely hardy. They can grow pretty much anywhere. They have abundant flowers that attract all sorts of pollinators, so they end up with abundant fruit that is dispersed by birds,” said Culley, who is chair of the UC Department of Biological Sciences. .

Ohio becomes the first state to ban the sale of invasive pear trees

University of Cincinnati professor Theresa Culley says Callery pear trees planted in Ohio neighborhoods are sprouting up in forests across the state. Ohio banned the sale of pear trees starting this year. Credit: Joseph Fuqua II/UC

Culley is a member of the Ohio Invasive Plant Council 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 are not allowed for sale or planting in the state due to their potential to cause economic or environmental harm. These include purple loosestrife, Japanese stiltgrass, 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 avoid it,” Culley said.

William Kyle Natorp, president and CEO of Cincinnati’s Natorp’s Nursery, said many homeowners 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 thing,” he said.

Natorp said growers offer a wide selection of alternatives to meet any growing condition.

Ohio becomes the first state to ban the sale of invasive pear trees

A northern nightingale sits in a blossoming pear tree. University of Cincinnati biologist Theresa Culley says the birds disperse the seeds of pear trees into forests, where they outnumber native trees. Credit: Michael Miller

“Ideally, a combination of trees is the best choice when planting multiple plants. This diversity helps protect against future diseases or unknown pests like the emerald ash borer,” Natorp said.

The emerald ash borer is an invasive non-native beetle that has killed tens of millions of trees in 30 states, according to the US Department of Agriculture.

South Carolina and Pennsylvania are enforcing similar measures to slow the spread of pear trees.

“Other states have already responded in a similar way to Ohio and I hope this continues across the country,” Natorp said.

Ohio becomes the first state to ban the sale of invasive pear trees

University of Cincinnati professor Theresa Culley says Callery pear trees planted in Ohio neighborhoods are sprouting up in forests across the state. Ohio banned the sale of pear trees starting this year. Credit: Joseph Fuqua II/UC

UC’s Culley said Ohio is on the lookout for other imminent threats from invasive non-native species. Warmer winters mean some plants move further north. Culley said he has a vested interest in preventing the spread of invasive species.

“I am also a gardener, so I want to know what to plant and not damage our natural areas,” she said.

Provided by the University of Cincinnati

Citation: Ohio Outlaws Ubiquitous Pear Trees (January 21, 2023) Retrieved January 21, 2023 from https://phys.org/news/2023-01-ohio-outlaws-ubiquitous-pear-trees.html

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