Callery pear represents new threat to Dallas County

Jim Uthe - Dallas County Road Department
Callery pear invading an open field.

The Callery pear, Pyrus calleryana, commonly called Bradford pear, has begun showing up in roadsides, woodlands and pastures across Dallas County. It has been planted as an ornamental in yards and other landscaped areas because of its dense white blossoms. 

Callery pear is native to China and cultivars were developed to be self-sterile. Initially, only the Bradford pear cultivar was available, but it was found to be structurally weak. Now, there are over two dozen cultivars, and when planted closely, insects will cross-pollinate them. Birds then eat the fruits and spread viable seed across the landscape. Trees can also become injured at the rootstock and sucker, if the suckers are allowed to flower, they cross-pollinate with the rest of the tree and develop fruits. 

Residents should care, because Callery can form dense, thorny thickets that outcompete native species, especially slower growing trees like oaks and hickories that are important to wildlife. Callery can also have a significant cost to livestock farmers and taxpayers for their removal in pastures, parks, natural areas, road rights-of-way, etc. 

As Dallas County continues to grow and more Callery Pear cultivars are planted, the risk to our adjacent pasture lands, natural areas and wildlife becomes greater. 

To help, residents should stop planting Callery pear; remove current trees and replace them with a native alternative, making sure to cut and treat the stumps or remove the rootstock to prevent invasive resprouts from forming; become familiar with the look and growth form of Callery; and notify the appropriate agency or your County Weed Commissioner if a wild population appears to be starting.