The Norman Transcript


April 11, 2014

Callery Pear is a beautiful invader

NORMAN — You have probably noticed that trees are beginning to break bud and bloom with beautiful flowers. One of the earliest, and certainly one of the showiest, is the Callery Pear.

One cultivated form of this tree is commonly called “Bradford Pear.” While I talk to countless people about the notorious and aggressive Eastern Redcedar and Musk Thistle being public enemies Nos. 1 and 2 in Cleveland County, I have to place Callery Pear at No. 3.

This Asian import has some good attributes, including early spring bloom, fall color and dense foliage. They also will grow fast in many different soils. However, while Callery Pears add beauty to our early spring days, it does not belong outside of our lawn.

These pear varieties are aggressive invaders of native plant communities in many areas of Oklahoma as they creep into pastures, native prairies, abandoned fields and forests.

Callery pears rapidly convert native prairie ecosystems, teaming with diversity, into stagnant monocultures and non-native woodlots. This not only takes up space for native plants and destroys most of them due to shading, but it changes the wildlife that use these areas, as well. 

Callery Pears are notorious for all sorts of problems, but being weak-wooded and highly invasive are the biggest reasons not to buy or plant one.

Callery Pears are exceedingly prone to wind and ice damage due to their narrow crotch angles, especially those found at the base of the large co-dominant central leaders that branch in whorled fashion about six feet off the ground.

These issues in urban areas have forced many homeowners and business owners to pay arborists to remove the post-storm “half-trees” as most split right down the middle. 

If you notice Callery Pears invading your acreage, early removal is critical to limit the invasion. Birds will ingest the fruit and defecate, further spreading the plant. Therefore, eliminating the seed source is needed.

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