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Callery Pear

Callery pear (Pyrus calleryana)

The Callery pear is an ornamental pear tree native to Asia which has become an invasive plant. It was introduced to North America in the early 1900s for agricultural use and quickly became a favorite in landscaping for their adaptability, flowering, fall color, and rounded crown. The tree was also believed to be unable to reproduce by seed and bred to be sterile, however, numerous cultivated varieties (“cultivars”) have been shown to be able to cross pollinate with each other and produce viable fruit. The most popular and commonly used cultivar is ‘Bradford.’ Other common cultivars include ‘Cleveland Select,’ ‘Autumn Blaze,’ ‘Chanticleer,’ and ‘Whitehouse.’ Showy white flowers in the spring mature into small pears that are eaten and dispersed by birds. Callery pear has become less desirable as a landscape tree in recent decades due to branch breakage as a result of their fast growth and dense branching structure. The trees are susceptible to storm damage and often lose limbs as a result.

Callery pear is often found in disturbed sites and is especially noticeable along roadways and in old fields. As it is a common landscaping tree, planting of Callery pear continues the dispersal of seed and escape into natural areas.

Leaves are arranged alternately and have a rounded shape. The margin is finely serrated with a distinctly wavy texture. The top of the leaf is a dark, rich green.

White flowers are densely clustered with five petals. The blooms typically have a strong, unpleasant aroma, often likened to rotting fish.

Tiny, hard pears appear in the fall. They are brown and almost woody until frost softens them, after which they are readily eaten by birds.

Trees have large egg-shaped terminal buds which are covered in light brown, woolly hairs. The twig is stout and red brown in color.

Bark is smooth and covered with lenticels when young, maturing with scaly ridges and shallow furrows in a scaled pattern. Though bred to be spineless, some individuals have sturdy spines.

As of January 1, 2023, Callery pear will be illegal to sell, grow, or plant in Ohio due to its invasiveness. For more information on the Ohio Department of Agriculture law restricting invasive plant species, please visit: https://agri.ohio.gov/divisions/plant-health/invasive-pests/invasive-and-noxious-plants/invasive-plants.

Some potential alternative trees species to Callery pear that are native to the eastern United States are:

  • 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 (Crateagus spp.)
  • blackgum (Nyssa sylvatica)

For expert advice and assistance with the management and removal of yard trees, contact an International Society of Arboriculture (ISA)-certified arborist.  ISA-certified arborists in your area can be located using this website: https://ohiochapterisa.org/aws/OCISA/pt/sp/trees4ohio_find-an-arborist

For information on how to remove or control Callery pear in forested or natural settings, see the fact sheets below, or contact your ODNR Division of Forestry State Service Forester: https://ohiodnr.gov/discover-and-learn/safety-conservation/about-odnr/forestry/landowner-assistance

Controlling Undesirable Trees, Shrubs, and Vines in Your Woodland: https://woodlandstewards.osu.edu/sites/woodlands/files/d6/files/pubfiles/0045.pdf

Herbicides Commonly Used for Controlling Undesirable Trees, Shrubs, and Vines in Your Woodland: https://woodlandstewards.osu.edu/sites/woodlands/files/d6/files/pubfiles/0045s1.pdf