State asks people to stop planting ornamental pear trees The trees have become an invasive species.

If you had planting a tree on your to-do list over the holiday weekend, hopefully you didn’t buy an ornamental pear tree.

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources sent out a notice last week that urged homeowners and landscapers to stop planting ornamental pear trees, which have become an invasive species that threatens native trees and plants. The DNR also recommends replacing ornamental pear trees when possible.

Originally, the seeds in the small fruit of ornamental pear trees wouldn’t grow a new tree. In the past several years, however, cross-pollination among various ornamental pear varieties has made their seeds viable. The trees have spread rapidly to wooded areas and to areas under power lines and where soil had been disturbed for construction but then left dormant, the DNR said in a news release.

In addition, while the trees produce an explosion of white flowers in the spring, they have a weaker structure than native trees and often sustain damage in storms, the news release said.

The Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation Department hasn’t planted ornamental pears for several years in parks or as street trees, said Derek Veit, superintendent of forestry operations. In addition to being an invasive species, the trees lose limbs frequently, grow taller than predicted and stretch out quickly into traffic along streets, Veit said.

Two varieties of ornamental pear, the Aristocrat and Cleveland Select, however, currently still are included on the Fort Wayne Planning Department’s list of trees commonly used in this area, said a staff member who wasn’t aware of the DNR request. Any formal comment on whether the city will change that policy must come from the mayor’s office, the staff member said.

As of Monday evening, the city had not replied to a question about whether it plans to remove ornamental pears from the planning department’s list of commonly used trees. Developers and landscapers may refer to when selecting trees for a project.

The problem trees are known as the callery pear tree, or Pyrus calleryana, the DNR news release said. The are commonly called “Bradford” pears, but varieties to be avoided include Bradford, New Bradford, Cleveland select, autumn blaze, Aristocrat, capitol, Chanticleer and many more.

The DNR recommends that people use native trees, such as serviceberry or eastern redbud, rather than ornamental pears. Serviceberry trees have white flowers in the spring and produce fruit that attracts wildlife, much like ornamental pears. Eastern redbuds grow quickly and produce lavender flowers in the spring. <br>

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For more about native trees well-suited for use in local yards and landscaping, go to the Indiana Native Plant and Wildflower Society webpage at inpaws.org/landscaping.