COLUMBUS, Ohio (WJW) — A fruit-bearing plant in Ohio is getting ready for spring — but its pretty white blooms are a long way from home and its presence here could be harmful.
Starting this year, Callery pear — also known as Bradford pear — cannot be planted, grown or sold in Ohio, according to a news release from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Forestry. It was placed on the state’s invasive plants list back in 2018, but the new rule just took effect this year.
The plant is likely to cause economic or environmental harm, according to the division. Ohioans who have them on their property aren’t required to remove them, but the division is encouraging it.
“Callery pear often dominates young, regenerating forest areas and inhibits the growth and establishment of native plant species,” division Chief Dan Balser is quoted in the release. “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 Asia that was brought to North America in the early 1900s for agricultural use, according to the department.
The plants bloom with white flowers — which have an unpleasant odor similar to rotting fish — and you can most likely spot them along highways, in yards and in fields. In the fall, they drop tiny brown pears that are hard as wood until the winter cold softens them up. Birds then eat them and spread the seeds.
The most popular strains of Callery pear are called “Bradford” pears. Other common species include “Cleveland Select,” “Autumn Blaze,” “Chanticleer” and “Whitehouse.”
There are plenty of Callery pear alternatives that are OK to plant — ones that have similar characteristics, but are native to the eastern U.S., according to the division:
- 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 (Crataegus spp.)
- blackgum (Nyssa sylvatica)