Indiana officials are urging homeowners and landscapers to stop planting ornamental pear trees because they are an invasive species that’s crowding out native trees.
The state Department of Natural Resources says the trees, commonly known as Bradford pears, may be a popular landscaping tree but they’re also a nuisance that can spread.
Ken Cote, nursery inspector and compliance officer for the DNR, says there are a number of alternatives to the Bradford pear.
“When one goes into a nursery or garden center they may ask, ‘I like what a Bradford pear looks like, but what are other alternatives?'” Cote says. “There are also is information on websites that you can go and look for alternatives.”
Cote says Hoosiers can help prevent the spread of the invasive trees by replacing them with ones native to Indiana.
“If you have one and they are giving you shade value, that’s one thing,” he says. “But if you have one that gets busted in a storm or an ice storm, and you have to cut it down, don’t put another one back, look for something different.”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture introduced the Bradford pear in 1964, partly because the tree was thought to be sterile and unable to spread.
While the Bradford pear tree cannot reproduce with another Bradford pear, they can cross pollinate with other Callery pear trees nearby. And Cote says these cross-pollinated trees are a serious problem for Indiana farmers and landowners.
“It is a difficult process to get rid of,” he says. “It would take a lot of labor or spot application of chemicals and there is an economic impact associated with those.”
The DNR says the best tree to replace any invasive tree species is one that’s native to a particular region, such as serviceberry trees that produce white spring blooms and fruit that attracts wildlife.