Callery Pear

(Pyrus calleryana)

An Aggressive Threat Throughout Our Region

Callery pear (aka Bradford pear) (Pyrus calleryana) was intentionally introduced from Asia in the early 1900s for experimentation in disease resistance of the common fruiting pear (Pyrus communis). The trial outcome was ‘Bradford’ pear, which has been shown to be increasingly invasive. While most cultivars are sterile, cross-pollination between the many commonly planted varieties has created fertile fruits. As birds eat and disseminate these fruits, the rapidly growing pear trees spread quickly along roadsides and ultimately into our backyards and natural areas.

Callery pear is a small tree (~40 feet tall) with an alternate leaf arrangement. Finely toothed-margined leaves are round to ovate, with a distinct ripple or wave, and are up to 3 inches long. Five-petaled flowers grow in clusters with a strong, unpleasant odor. Fruits are ½ inch in diameter, green to brown, and covered in small pale white spots. The bark is gray to brown, changing from smooth/glossy to deeply fissured or scaley bark as it matures. Naturalized individuals will typically have spines.

SEWISC has recently received numerous reports of Callery pear individuals and clusters as their bold fall foliage calls visual attention to these trees. It is one of the only woody species with white, abundant flower blooms, making it easily identifiable in early spring. Because this pear species is adapted to a wide range of environments, it easily spreads and establishes in naturalized and disturbed areas. SEWISC is working with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to implement Early Detection and Rapid Response to this problem. You can help by learning how to identify and control this threat to our region.

Bradford Pear | An Unintended Menace and How to Combat Its Spread

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