Have you noticed all the lovely white blossoms in the neighborhood and along the highways recently? Mostly they are Bradford pears, widely used for a while to line streets and adorn yards, but now extremely problematic. The Bradford pear, a cultivar of the non-native Chinese Callery pear, was promoted as an ornamental that was sterile and would not jump into the wild. Disasterously, that has not been the case.
Bradfords have successfully cross-pollinated with other pears and reverted to their ancient thorny Callery form, contributing to one of the worst invasive plant species in the Southeast. The trees readily seed into natural habitats. They appear to be beautiful in the spring, especially along the highways, but they form impenetrable thorny thickets that choke the life out of our valuable native species.
Beginning October 1, 2024, it will be illegal for Bradford Pear trees, Callery pears, and other related species to be sold at nurseries in South Carolina, but the law does nothing to eliminate existing problematic trees.
If you have a Bradford pear on your property, consider taking it down and replacing it with a beautiful native. Most Bradford pears in our neighborhood are very old anyway and past their peak. No one likes to remove established ornamentals, but if you have a Bradford pear and want help evaluating it, the Forest Friends Committee would be glad to help.
And, come fall, you can get a free replacement through our native tree give-away program!
Email Valerie Marcil with questions.