Stop planting ornamental pear trees in Indiana, DNR says

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Indiana officials are urging homeowners and landscapers to stop planting ornamental pear trees.

Ornamental pear trees, most commonly known as Bradford pears, have been a popular landscaping tree in the state for decades. But they’re also a nuisance, and they’re crowding out native Indiana trees.

So the Department of Natural Resources is asking homeowners and landscapers to stop planting such trees and to replace them when possible.

“Over time different varieties of pear have cross pollinated in our urban areas, allowing them to rapidly spread into our natural resources,” said Megan Abraham, director of the DNR Division of Entomology & Plant Pathology.

Cultivated forms of this invasive species are most accurately known as Pyrus calleryana or Callery pear tree. Commonly available ornamental pear cultivars, all of which are invasive and should be avoided, include Bradford, New Bradford®, Cleveland select, autumn blaze, Aristocrat®, capitol, Chanticleer®, and dozens more.

In addition to being invasive, they are structurally weaker and more easily damaged by storms than native trees.

Carrie Tauscher, urban forestry coordinator with the DNR Division of Forestry, says that evidence of the trees’ rapid spread is easy to see.

“Just take a look for glossy leaved, egg-shaped trees in highway interchanges,” Tauscher said. “It’s common to find them in unmown areas under utility lines and in lots and fields initially cleared for construction that are then left fallow.”

You can stop the spread of this invasive plant by selecting alternate trees.

If you are looking for an alternative flowering tree for Indiana, serviceberry trees, which have similar white blooms in the spring and fruits that attract wildlife, are one option. Eastern redbuds, which grow quickly, with eye-catching lavender flowers in the spring are another option.