Missouri Invasive Plant Task Force (MoIP) - to identify and control the invasive plant species that severely impact native biodiversity

Tina Casagrand

What you need to know about Bradford pear trees to keep Missouri ecology healthy

rattlesnake master and blazing star with quote “I will argue that every scrap of biological diversity is priceless, to be learned and cherished, and never to be surrendered without a struggle.”

Photo by Bruce Schuette, Missouri Department of Natural Resources, Missouri State Parks, from the Missouri Invasive Plant Case Study Site Cuivre River State Park.

 

When non-native plants cause significant ecological or environmental harm, we consider them “invasive.”

Invasive species regularly appear in Top-5 lists of the most significant threats to biodiversity, along with habitat loss, climate change and pollution.

In the case of Bradford pear (as it is most popularly called, though we’re really talking about all cultivars of Callery pear–more on that later), its potential harm to ecology and environment is substantial.

Here are some reasons why MoIP is choosing to focus attention on Bradford pear this year:

1. They can displace native plant communities

When thinking about invasive plants from an ecological perspective, the most important aspect is how they displace native plants communities.

Native plant communities are important for a number of reasons. Plants native to a particular area have co-evolved with other plants and animal species that we love and that keep our ecosystems healthy.

Native plants provide food for caterpillars and other insects, that are in turn eaten by larger animals. Non-native plants do not share evolutionary history with other native species, and therefore are not as ecologically beneficial as native counterparts. (For more, read this article by Doug Tallamy.)

Because Bradford pears grow so quickly, they can form thickets in large areas of land just a few years after sprouting. And as with many non-native plants, it leafs out earlier than native species, which shades out spring wildflowers. This alters the natural light and micro-climate of the land around the pear trees. It limits the ability of native plants to re-establish themselves.

And this is important, because as E.O. Wilson says:

“I will argue that every scrap of biological diversity is priceless, to be learned and cherished, and never to be surrendered without a struggle.”

2. Without control, invasive ornamental pear trees are geared up to take over quickly

If different cultivars of Callery pears (including the Bradford pear) are grown in proximity, they can cross-pollinate and produce fertile seeds, carried by birds into new areas.

This fact sheet from the Missouri Department of Conservation says it well:

Callery pear is adapted to a wide variety of environmental conditions, including heavy clay soils, drought, heat and pollution. Growing best in full sun, it also tolerates partial shading. Spreading into open, disturbed habitats, naturalization occurs within early successional fields, parks, rights of way, power lines and other natural open areas. It grows rapidly, flowers at a young age, often develops thorns and produces large amounts of seed. It is also establishing in the understory of forests and woodlands and is able to flower and fruit in small canopy openings.

The seed bank and sprouting ability of Bradford pear persists for years after cutting or treatment, so further management is needed beyond the first treatment.

3. You can do something!

Plant native alternatives. The City of Columbia’s “Stop the Spread!” campaign suggests the following:

Requiem for a Bradford Pear

by Tina Casagrand 0 Comments

This shows where the Bradford pear limb broke off from the trunk and apparently other limbs broke from the same area previously. South St. Louis, 2017.

originally published in Outdoor Living, Summer 2014

by Margo Farnsworth

I had inherited my much longed for older sister’s bedroom.  It was a garret-like space that opened into our dusty, but neatly arranged attic with oversized attic fan serving as both focal point and cooling system in the early 1960’s. Here too, was the board where my chalk smudged seven-year-old fingers laid out my future farm.  Lots of horses with paddocks to the west of the house and long southern pastures in the fore were carefully drawn.  The front drive would, of course, be Bradford pears lined up two-by-two all the way to the street.

I was raised on a love of Bradford pears.  Originally sent from China to Europe, their snowy spring dresses came to adorn landscapes in all the most fashionable business parks beginning in the ‘50s.  As subdivisions became popular, so too were these orderly, oval-topped sentries planted throughout neighborhood entries and parks alike.  Their march toward omnipresence had begun.  

As time passed, years of dust settled on the chalkboard with the drawing of my farm.  Bradford pears advanced their hold on whole communities as I was building a career and raising a family.  No horticulturalist, I had not studied the darker side of the pernicious pear.  As I grew, those first pears started to disintegrate in storms.  “Break-away” pears we labeled them as we began to recognize they were neither strong nor long-lived, have lives of usually less than 25 years, with their demise commonly arriving after only 15 to 20 years.

Then, Douglas Tallamy added a tombstone for all of the cultivars of the Callery pear including the Bradford, Cleveland and handful of others.  His studies revealed how poor these trees are in hosting food sources for birds and other wildlife. In a talk for the Missouri Prairie Foundation, Tallamy discussed computations that a single family of chickadee babies will devour 9,000 caterpillars on their way to adulthood.  Those caterpillars like oak trees and other natives – Bradford pears, not so much.

As I wrote this article I contemplated the double row of Cleveland pears the former owners planted on my farm with a rueful smile.  They have fire blight and all must be removed.  I cannot blame myself or you for all the lacy ladies, those Bradford pears planted across our country.  We only went where we were led.  But I can pledge a new allegiance to serviceberry, redbuds and other native trees for beauty along my drive and food in the bellies of birds.  And when a grandchild uses my old chalkboard, I’ll teach them well about the shallow pleasures of a pretty face or flower alone.  Our landscape’s beauty is made of more substantial stuff.  

About the writer: Margo Farnsworth is a writer, biomimicry instructor and Fellow for the Biomimicry Institute. She invites readers into nature, offering strategic ways to live with wild neighbors through biomimicry and other practical methods.  Her work has appeared in the book Wildness: Relations of People & Place along with magazines such as The New Territory, EarthLines, TreeHugger and numerous blogs.

Greenbelt Land Trust of Mid-Missouri Honeysuckle Work Day

by Tina Casagrand 2 Comments

Green Belt Land Trust wants to let you know about an opportunity to do some good work and help out a conservation easement landowner by clearing invasive honeysuckle on Saturday, November 11th, from 10AM to noon.

They will be led by Fred Young, honeysuckle exterminator extraordinaire, and Greenbelt will provide the necessary equipment.  However, if you have your own loppers and work gloves, feel free to bring those, too!

Please RSVP by emailing mpowell[at]greenbeltmissouri.org, and he will send you information on where to meet.

Spotlight on Emmenegger Nature Park invasive plant efforts

From Gwyn Wahlmann:
Emmenegger Nature Park is a 110-acre wooded park in Kirkwood, Missouri, located on the Meramec River and endowed with unusual natural beauty and biological diversity.
As an “adopt-a-park” subset of Kirkwood Parks Assistance Corps (KPAC), a small crew of regular volunteers has been removing honeysuckle at Emmenegger for 4-5 years.  We have worked every Sunday, March through May, and September through November.  Two of our crew also work there during the week throughout the seasons.
Upon occasion we have been joined by students from Kirkwood High School and Meramec Community College, and volunteer participants with Biodiversity St. Louis “Honeysuckle Sweep Week.”
It would be impossible to know how many honeysuckle shrubs we’ve removed, but like most natural areas in the St. Louis region, the park was heavily infested.  An estimate from Kirkwood Parks Department is that we’ve cleared about a third of the park, as many as 30 acres.
We also remove euonymus, garlic mustard, Callery Pear, Burning Bush, Japanese Beefsteak Plant and other known exotic invasives.
Visit our page for MoIP invasive plant case sites, including detailed management procedures and “before and after” photos.

Honeysuckle Hackathon 2017 and other St. Louis-Area invasive plant initiatives

by Tina Casagrand 0 Comments

“It’s a leaf-out freakout,” begins a St. Louis Post-Dispatch article posted March 13. As described in, “St. Louis residents beat back invasive honeysuckle as spring nears,” organizations across the city are engaged in removal of this prolific and highly invasive plant.

Kirkwood Honeysuckle Hackathon

Hack12

Photo by Robert Weaver, The Gateway Gardener

The Kirkwood Parks Assistance Corps’ Honeysuckle Hackathon met with great success. Over 100 volunteers showed up in the course of a week. Here are some documents they used that may prove helpful in other community invasive plant removal efforts:

See more photos, click here. Photos of Meramec students helping on Thursday are here. To download the whole gallery, click on the downward arrow next to the “Buy Photos” button. To download individual photos click on the photo then on the downward arrow at bottom right page.

What’s Next

There are still some work dates set for St. Louis Wild Ones Honeysuckle Sweep week.

And finally, check out this video by Great Rivers Greenway and share with your networks!

Learn more about exotic honeysuckles on MoIP’s species-specific information page.

Illinois Invasive Species Symposium Call for Abstracts, due April 3

by Tina Casagrand 0 Comments
 
The symposium will be held on May 31 in Champaign, IL.  
 
 
Call for Abstracts
 
We are now accepting abstract submissions for presentations at the 4th Annual Illinois Invasive Species Symposium. The Symposium is a joint effort between University of Illinois Extension, the Illinois Natural History Survey, and The Morton Arboretum. It provides an opportunity to learn about projects and programs underway to address invasive species that are impacting Illinois’ natural lands and native species.
 
Presentations should be on invasive species projects or programs in Illinois. We are accepting sub-missions of presentations on all taxa of invasive species. Presentations will be 20-30 minutes in length.
 
Please email abstract submissions to cwevans [at] illinois.edu by April 3, 2017. Authors will be notified by April 17.
 
Abstract Format
1. Title
2. Authors: Include author names and contact information. If there are multiple authors, please place an asterisk (*) after the name of the presenter(s)
3. Body of abstract: Body of abstract should be a single paragraph and provide a brief description of the presentation
 
Christopher Evans
Forestry Extension and Research Specialist
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Department of Natural Resources & Environmental Sciences
 
University of Illinois Extension Forestry
354 State Highway 145N
Simpson, IL 62985-9614