It is amazing that something that many people find so pretty and are wildly painted as an ornamental tree can in a few years turn into an invasive plant. Such is the case with the callery pear, a native to China and Korea and has become one of our most commonly planted yard and garden shrubs.
While it is quite lovely in the spring with its white flowers that are such a treat to see, they do have a bad habit that has recently caused them to be listed as an invasive species. While the callery is listed as a plant that is not able to reproduce itself, it is sterile until planted near other varieties of pears. It will cross with them and then become able to produce fruit and seeds. This is when they can become a problem. Birds and small animals love to feed upon the fruit of these crossed trees and spread them all across the landscape where they then reproduce.
I have known several locations where they now extend over many acres and have crowded out most of the other plants that do produce food vital to our native wildlife. The Bradford pear is the most common of these cultivator pears. They are drought resistant, thus have been planted in locations all across Indiana.
These pears can grow to a height of up to 50 feet but are not a very hardy tree and in ice storms or strong winds lose many of their limbs. They also split quite easily. If they would not spread all over the countryside and not be so prone to breakage they would be a nice addition to our flora as they are one of the first trees to flower each spring. Another drawback to the callery is they usually live for an average of around 20 years, then you have a lot of dead trees to clean up. One of the sites where you can find large numbers of callery pears is in a new subdivision where it often seems that every yard has a number of quite pretty pear trees in full bloom that does indeed liven up the neighborhood. How many of these people do not know that in a few years they will have a mess of limbs to clean up and dead trees to cut down.
On a drive last spring I began to look at how many locations now have these pear trees. I was amazed at the number of place they are now the dominant tree. In some old strip mine lands there are thousands of these pears, and they are quire lovely and do provide fruit for some wildlife. But they are indeed forming thickets of nothing but callery pears. Also many roadsides and ditches are prime locations for large numbers of these now invasive plants.
This is a classic example of how something seems so great but then can turn into a problem in a short time. Man seems to have a habit of wanting to change the landscape to what he thinks is the most attractive to the eye. On the other hand nature has its own plan that is best for the environment and what will provide the most habitat for the various species that will live in that habitat. It’s nice to have a year and roadside full of grass and free of weeds, but how many species of wildlife can exist in such a location.
It’s like people; it takes all kinds to make this world what it is today. If there is only one example of what we often think is the proper race or creed for our homeland then we have forgotten that diversity is what nature is all about. It’s variety of what exists in this world that makes it so special and not one species like the callery pear that likes to crowd out everything else for its own benefit.