Flowering pear trees becoming the scourge of central Kentucky woodland pastures

Central Kentucky still boasts one of the largest populations of presettlement trees in the nation according to Tom Kimmerer, scientist, photographer and former UK faculty member, in his new book Venerable Trees. However, these ancient trees and the remaining woodland pastures in which they reside are in danger. Chief among the culprits threatening these ancient trees is the flowering pear tree. “We have to stop planting Callery pears” says Kimmerer in an article in the March 30th Lexington Herald-Leader.

Wild invasive flowering pear trees in a field near a subdivision near Southpoint Dr. in Lexington, Ky., Monday, March 28, 2016.
Wild invasive flowering pear trees in a field near a subdivision near Southpoint Dr. in Lexington Photo courtesy Lexington Herald-Leader

Going by various names – Bradford, Callery, Cleveland Select -these cultivars interbreed and create an invasive wild population of hybrid Callery pear trees.

Birds and wind distribute the tasty fruit of these trees across fields where new trees are crowding out natives plants and trees. Callery pears have four-inch thorns that can’t be mowed down and can be removed only by steel-tracked bulldozers.

Article excerpts courtesy Lexington Herald-Leader