NEW ORLEANS — A stinky but handsome and widely popular landscape tree has become an aggressive invader.
Callery pears, which is a species that was brought to America from Asia a century ago, create dense thickets that overwhelm native plants and bear four-inch spikes that can flatten tractor tires.
Bradford pears and other ornamental Callery pears were cultivated from an import that saved pear orchards from a deadly bacterial disease.
And for decades, the decorative trees seemed near perfect, aside from a tendency to fall apart after about 15 years — and their stench.
But they cross-pollinated with other ornamental varieties.
Invasive stands now have been reported in more than 30 states.
Fourteen states have formally listed the trees as invasive.
A 2020 webinar put on by the U.S. Department of Agriculture cheekily titled the species “Worse than murder hornets!”
To kill them, states including Missouri and Alabama, ask that you cut them down and then apply herbicide to the stumps.
In North Carolina, they are offering landowners free native trees if they provide pictures of the Callery pears being cut down on their property.
Some cities in New York and Virginia are no longer planting them. States including South Carolina, Ohio, and one city in Indiana have banned them.