Planting Callery pear no longer permitted in Ohio

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Callery pear's white flowers
The Callery pear's white flowers are clustered with five petals, and blooms typically have a strong, unpleasant smell, often compared to rotting fish. Ohio Department of Natural Resources photo.

COLUMBUS — It is now illegal to sell, grow, or plant Callery pear — also known as Bradford pear — in Ohio because of its invasive qualities and likelihood to cause economic or environmental harm.

There is no requirement for the removal of existing plants, but the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Forestry encourages control and removal to benefit native forest ecosystems.

Callery pear
Callery pear is most easily spotted in early spring, when it blooms with white flowers along highways, yards, and fields and other disturbed sites. Ohio Department of Natural Resources photo.

Callery pear is an ornamental species native to regions of Asia. It was introduced to North America in the early 1900s for agricultural use. It quickly became a favorite in landscaping for its adaptability, flowering, fall color, and rounded crown.

Callery pear is most easily spotted in early spring when it blooms with white flowers along highways, yards, fields and other disturbed sites. The rounded leaves are dark green with a shiny upper surface and arranged alternately. The leaf margin is wavy and finely serrated.

Callery pear leaves
The Callery pear has rounded leaves that are dark green with a shiny upper surface, and arranged alternately. The leaf margin is wavy and finely serrated. Ohio Department of Natural Resources photo.

The white flowers are clustered with five petals, and blooms typically have a strong, unpleasant smell, often compared to rotting fish. Tiny, hard pears appear in the fall. The brown fruit is almost woody until frost softens it. After that, the fruits are eaten by birds who spread the seeds.

The tree was also believed to be unable to reproduce by seed and bred to be sterile. However, many cultivars can cross-pollinate with each other and produce viable fruit. The most popular of those is the Callery pear is Bradford.

Other common species include Cleveland select, autumn blaze, chanticleer and whitehouse.

Depending on site conditions, Ohioans may consider using tree species native to the eastern United States with similar characteristics to the Callery pear. Some potential alternatives include:

  • 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)

For more information on how to remove or control Callery pear in forested or natural settings, see the fact sheets available here:

To contact your ODNR Division of Forestry State Service Forester, click here. For expert advice and assistance with the management and removal of yard trees, contact an International Society of Arboriculture (ISA)-certified arborist in your area using this website. For more information on the Ohio Department of Agriculture law restricting invasive plant species, click here.

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