There is an invasive tree species that has spread throughout the entire Upstate and in most of the states east of the Mississippi River. It is called the Bradford Pear.
The assistant professor of forest health and invasive species, David Coyle, is leading the Bradford Pear Bounty with his partners the SC Forestry Commission and the City of Clemson to replace hundreds of Bradford Pear trees with a tree native to the Clemson area.
This event will take place Saturday, February 29th in Nettles Park. You will need to pre-register and you are limited to five trees a person with 400 trees total.
The problem is that the trees he wants to replace are the Callery Pears which is a wilder version of the Bradford Pear tree. They are so invasive that they create “dead zones” around them even preventing grass from growing.
The trees can grow up to 60 feet tall and in thick copses with very sharp thorns. All flora and fauna stay away form these thick copses and caterpillars won’t eat the leaves. The only birds that eat the fruit are starlings. Also, the densely packed tree trunks block the sunlight preventing other vegetation from growing near them.
Callery Pears tend to be like a feral animal running rampant when they get this way. It becomes very expensive and almost impossible to remove them at this point. Fire does not work as a deterrent it only clears the way for a new crop to begin growing.
It all began with a fire blight that attacked America’s pear crop in the early 20th century. A tree was imported from China and grafted onto the European pear to make it bacteria resistant which worked all too well. It gave us what is called the Bradford Pear.
Around the mid-20th century, a developer in Maryland decided it was a great “street tree” with the perfect shape. Pretty and thornless and survived everything. Afterward the tree began to become planted across the southeast and Midwest. A favorite low-maintenance tree for homeowners
However, do not plant a Bradford Pear in your yard. The limbs are prone to easy breakage in high winds or storms and clean up is a hassle. Also, there is a horrible smell when they flower. Birds will eat the fruit but that causes cross-pollination and spreads the invasive version of the plant, the Callery Pear.
Instead plant these native alternatives, serviceberry, fringe tree, tupelo and dogwood.
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