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Group targets invasive Bradford pear trees

Brasdford or callery pear trees provide no food for native Virginia wildlife.
Brasdford or Callery pear trees provide no food for native Virginia wildlife.

The Callery or Bradford pear was first imported from Asia in the 60’s – used widely by landscapers, and it’s common here in Virginia, but a grassroots group determined to rid the state of invasive plants is critical. Jim Hurley is on the board of Blue Ridge Prism. He says these trees produce pears too small for people but just right for non-native birds.

“In particular starlings, and they are passed through their gut and pooped on the landscape.”

Once their seeds hit the ground, Bradford pears can take over fields and stream banks. Getting rid of them could easily cost a thousand dollars per acre, because special equipment is needed to remove each tree.

“It has inch to two-inch-long thorns along the branches and the trunks,” he explains.

To make matters worse, Hurley adds, Bradford pears smell awful. “The masses of flowers cause a stink reminiscent of unwashed gym sock.”

And they are prone to breaking apart in high winds or when they reach a certain size. Hurley says it would be better to plant native trees like dogwood, service berry, red buds or plums.

Blue Ridge Prism will host an online program about invasive plants April 21 from 11:30- 1:00 p.m. You can register here. And you can find more information about Bradford pear trees here.

Sandy Hausman is Radio IQ's Charlottesville Bureau Chief