State to ban Bradford Pear trees in 2022

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T. Davis Sydnor, The Ohio State University. PROVIDED PHOTO

HARRISBURG– The PA Department of Agriculture added Callery pear, commonly called Bradford Pear, to a list of noxious weeds, rendering them a plant that cannot be legally sold or cultivated in the state.

The ban on sale and cultivation will take effect Feb. 9, 2022, with enforcement phased in over two years.

“Callery pear is another non-native plant that was brought to this country for its beauty and rapid growth, without regard for its long-term potential to harm our environment and food supply,” said Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding. “Banning the sale of an invasive plant is an important tool to stop its spread and is a step we take only after careful consideration of the damage it causes and its potential for continued harm to our ecosystem and economy.”

Enforcement of the ban will be phased in over two years to allow time for nurseries and landscaping businesses to eliminate it from their stock and replace the trees with alternatives that pose less threat to the environment and agriculture.

The department has established an exemption procedure for breeders who own the rights to varieties that have been researched and proven sterile, and will consider exempting these varieties from the ban.

Callery pear was brought to the U.S. in the early 1900s by researchers looking for a fire blight-resistant species that could be bred with European pear to increase fruit production. It has garnered attention in recent years as a prolific invader that can easily spread into woodlands, pastures, fields and natural areas.

Property owners should control the tree’s spread on their land and consider native alternatives when planting new trees.

Find native alternatives and information on how to control the plant on the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources website, dcnr.pa.gov.

The timeline for the two-year rollout of the ban is as follows:

  • Winter 2021 – Callery pear added to Pennsylvania’s Controlled plant and Noxious Weed list as a Class B weed. Class B weeds are those that are so prolific they cannot realistically be eradicated. These plants are targeted for control measures.
  • February 2022 – Nursery and landscape businesses will receive notice from the department, advising them to immediately begin adjusting propagation, ordering and planting of Callery Pear to decrease inventory.
  • February 2023 – The department will issue letters of warning to any plant merchant still selling Callery Pear, providing a date in February 2024 after which remaining inventory will be subject to a destruction order. 
  • February 2024 – The department will issue Stop Sale and destruction orders to plant merchants selling or distributing Callery Pear.

Merchants with questions should contact ra-plant@pa.gov.