By this time of year, residents have probably noticed the fragrant (but not necessarily pleasant smelling) blossoms of the Callery pear trees throughout the city and neighboring communities. Callery pear is a tree species that is highly invasive. An invasive species is a non-native species that causes harm to the environment, economy, human, animal, or plant health. Callery pear is particularly invasive because it spreads and reproduces so easily that it overtakes natural areas and chokes out other desirable native species. Cultivars and varieties of Callery pears include Cleveland select, Whitehouse, Bradford, among others.
Beginning in January 2023, Callery pear was added to the list of banned invasive plants in Ohio, making it illegal to produce, plant, or sell these trees in the state.
This species is dominating roadway medians, rights of way, and natural areas around the state and can be easily identified this time of year by the white, flowering blossoms. The new ban on the plant won’t stop the spread of the invasive plant, but it will help reduce further introduction.
The ban does not regulate existing plants, so residents should not panic if this tree is currently planted on their property. However, removal of existing trees will aid in the reduction of the spread of this plant. Over time, the City’s Arborist will be strategically removing, and replacing, Callery pears that are planted on City property and rights-of-way.
Some potential alternative trees species to Callery pear that are native to the eastern United States are:
• 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 (Crateagus spp.)
• blackgum (Nyssa sylvatica)
For more information, visit the Ohio Department of Natural Resources webpage.