ODNR announces Callery pear trees banned in Ohio


The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) recently announced that it is now illegal to sell, grow or plant Callery pear trees in Ohio because of their invasive qualities and likelihood to cause economic or environmental harm.

The law went into effect Jan. 1, 2023.

There is no requirement for the removal of existing plants, but the ODNR Division of Forestry encourages control and removal of the trees to benefit native forest ecosystems.

“Callery pear often dominates young, regenerating forest areas and inhibits the growth and establishment of native plant species,” said ODNR Division of Forestry Chief Dan Balser. “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 popular for use in landscaping because of 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, fields and other disturbed sites. Its 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 that is often compared to rotting fish.

Tiny, hard pears appear on the trees in the fall. The brown fruit is almost woody until frost softens it. After that, the fruits are eaten by birds that spread the seeds.

The tree was also believed to be unable to produce 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 in the Callery pear is Bradford. Other common species include Cleveland Select, Autumn Blaze, Chanticleer and Whitehouse.

Some potential alternative trees species to Callery pear that are native to the eastern United States are: serviceberry, eastern redbud, chokecherry, American plum, flowering dogwood, eastern hophornbeam, American hornbeam, yellowwood, hawthorn and blackgum

Reach John Hackley at 937-402-2571.

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