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Pennsylvania phases in ban of Bradford Pear trees

The invasive Callery Pear trees, often called Bradford Pear trees, will be banned from sale and cultivation starting on Feb. 9, 2022.

HARRISBURG, Pa. — The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture announced on Tuesday it would be phasing in the ban of Callery Pear trees 

Callery Pear trees, often called Bradford Pear trees, are known for their blooming flowers in the spring, and the rotting fish smell that accompanies the blossoms.

The Department of Agriculture announced on Tuesday they added the trees to the list of noxious weeds. Plants on the noxious weeds list can't be sold or cultivated in the state.

The invasive trees will be banned from sale and cultivation starting on Feb. 9, 2022.

The popular non-native tree, spread from planted landscapes, crowds out other plants and disrupts native ecosystems, according to the Department of Agriculture.

“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.”

The department says the ban will be phased in over two years so that nurseries and landscaping businesses have time to remove it from their stock and replace it with alternatives that are better for the environment.

There will be a procedure for breeders who own the rights to varieties that have been researched and proven sterile, where specific varieties may be considered exempt from the ban.

The Department of Agriculture says the 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. But it garnered attention in recent years as a prolific invader that can easily spread into woodlands, pastures, fields and natural areas.

According to the Department of Agriculture, the timeline for the two-year rollout of the ban is as follows:

  • Winter 2021 - Callery pear is 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.

For more information on the ban and exemption applications, click here.

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