On September 28, hard work on the part of Missouri Invasive Plant (MoIP) Task Force members culminated in a successful day. MU cut down a callery pear tree and became the first official signer of the MoIP Task Force Pledge to Stop the Spread of Invasive Species. You can read the whole story here.
In addition to the dozens of people attending the ceremony, MoIP, the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, and others helped spread the word online.
Here are the results of that concentrated effort, from MoIP’s social media accounts.
This post reached 470 accounts and was seen 698 times.
An Instagram story serialized the morning via 6 photos, along with text about our mission. Instagram stories were seen 76-116 times depending on the individual story (views were enhanced by location tagging and hashtags).
One Instagram story prompted a private message from a flower grower working on a tree ordinance for the City of Springfield that’s looking to address some invasive species issues (especially with the Callery Pear). She wanted our moinvasives email address to discuss someone to talk to to make sure their work is in line with what we are doing.
In total, we made 1,216 impressions last week on Twitter.
Mizzou Botanic Garden Cuts Down Pear Tree & Takes the Pledge to Stop the Spread of Invasive Plants
The Missouri Invasive Plant Task Force, a resource of the Grow Native! program, invites communities, campuses, businesses and other entities to follow Mizzou Botanic Garden’s example and take the pledge to control the spread invasive species on their property.
Jefferson City, MO (September 28, 2018)—This morning, the first of eight Callery pear trees on the Columbia campus of the University of Missouri was cut down—not by vandals, but by university officials. During the invasive plant awareness and educational event, officials not only removed the invasive, non-native tree, but also signed a pledge signaling the Mizzou Botanic Garden’s continued commitment to control other invasive plant species on campus. The remaining seven trees will be removed the week of Oct. 1, 2018.
“These pear trees, located in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources (CAFNR) courtyard, were planted in 1998 as part of the landscaping for the new Anheuser-Busch Natural Resources Building for their profusion of spring blossoms and brilliant fall foliage,” said Pete Millier, Director of Mizzou Botanic Garden, a designation for the campus. “Now, however, we know better,” said Millier, “and the Mizzou Botanic Garden is committed to stopping the spread of this pretty but highly invasive tree and other non-native invasive plants that threaten native biodiversity and are problematic for farmers and other landowners. We are proud to have taken this step, and to be the first entity in the state to have signed the Missouri Invasive Plant Task Force pledge to stop the spread of invasive species.” For more than two years, Mizzou Botanic Garden has carried out other invasive plant projects, including the removal of five Callery pear trees at the Memorial Union, replacing them with non-invasive trees, and the organization of a mass bush honeysuckle/winter creeper removal along a portion of Flat Branch Creek.
“Mizzou Botanic Garden is to be commended for publicly demonstrating its dedicated effort to stopping the spread of invasive plants,” said Carol Davit, Executive Director of the Missouri Prairie Foundation, the nonprofit conservation organization and land trust that operates the Grow Native! program, and serves as Chair of the program’s Missouri Invasive Plant Task Force (MoIP), a multi-disciplinary, multi-agency group working as a united front to foster greater statewide early detection and control of invasive plants. “We invite other educational institutions, corporate campuses, municipalities, neighborhood associations, and other entities to take the pledge as well to signal their commitment to joining the fight to control invasive plants and mitigate the serious threats they pose.”
MoIP Task Force members developed the pledge with a number of benefits in mind. First, it lets the stakeholders of a campus, business, community, or other entity who may be concerned with invasive plants on that property know that the entity, by taking the pledge, has committed to developing a plan and dedicating resources to the control of invasive plant species. Second, it helps stakeholders understand that controlling invasive plants on that property will take time. Additionally, when a community or other entity lets its stakeholders know it has signed the pledge, it provides an opportunity for stakeholders to get involved in the effort.
“Invasive plants are serious threats to Missouri’s native ecosystems, as well as many native plants and animals, the built environment, and many facets of the state’s economy, including cattle production, the timber industry, and many aspects of outdoor recreation, including fishing and hunting industries,” said Davit. “Missouri will control invasive species only with the concerted efforts of many entities, including private citizens working together. Our state is a long-time, nationwide leader in natural resource conservation, and by leading in invasive plant control as well, we can further safeguard Missouri’s habitats, fish, wildlife, and other cherished aspects of our natural heritage.”
Entities wishing to sign the pledge may do so via a Google form available at www.moinvasives.org. The Missouri Invasive Plant Task Force (MoIP) can also provide a pledge document suitable for signing ceremonies and framing. Many resources on the identification and control of invasive plants, including native alternatives to invasive plants, are available from MoIP as well.
When the Missouri Department of Conservation posted about stopping the spread of Callery pear, there were several good questions and comments about legal ramifications for distributing invasive plants. We will address some of them here.
“If Callery pear trees are a problem, why are they sold at almost all home stores?”
It is not illegal to sell Callery pear. While many small nurseries are aware of the problem and no longer carry Callery cultivars, large stores with national purchasing programs still stock Callery on their sales floor.
The only Missouri law concerning invasive plants is the Noxious Weed Law 263.190, which identifies only 12 species of plants. Most of those species are commonly known to threaten agricultural land.
The Noxious Weed Law comes with two legal mandates:
Noxious weeds may not be sold.
Landowners must control and/or eradicate these particular weeds.
Since Callery pears are planted on countless lawns and landscapes, the second mandate would require all private homeowners to cut down their pear trees. That would be highly unpopular. Plus, there aren’t enough resources to enforce the law.
Failure to comply with the Noxious Weed Law is a misdemeanor. County prosecutors enforce it.
“Ban the things. Other states do. They cannot be shipped there.”
Currently, adding a plant to the Noxious Weed Law list requires review and approval by the Missouri Department of Agriculture.
However, to create a new designation of plants that are banned from sale (and not require landowners to control) would require changing statutes through the legislative process.
The State of Ohio recently passed new legislation that bans the sale of 30+ species of known invasive plants (read law here). Missouri agencies are aware of the legislation. The Missouri Invasive Plant Task Force is currently reviewing the spread of invasive species statewide in order to make research-based recommendations regarding new rules.
“Could the USDA be petitioned to stop the sale?”
We prefer to educate the public rather than pursue top-down measures.
“What can I do to stop the spread?”
Spread something else: spread the word! Tell the story about how ornamental pears are cross-breeding with cousins, and how it’s becoming a big problem for roadways, empty fields, and other landscapes in Missouri. Contact your city officials, legislators, and governor, to express your thoughts on Callery pear and other invasive species. Advocate for solutions at all levels of your community.
About Noxious Weed Law, from the Missouri Department of Agriculture
“My heart is broken.” A woman dipped her head back and sighed as cars zoomed behind her and freshly cut tree trunks lay bucked up in scattered rows. A long row of Bradford pear trees, a cultivar of Callery pear (Pyrus calleryanna), had bloomed in her Kansas community for years, and now they were gone. “This is the best part of our neighborhood,” she told a news reporter.
It’s easy to see what she loved about Callery pear trees: billions of white flowers put on shows in early spring and waxy red leaves blaze in the fall. As a plus, they grow fast to fill in new developments.
Of course, a closer look reveals many reasons for a neighborhood to cut down all their Callery pears.
While we at the Missouri Invasive Plant Task Force call for stopping the sale of invasive plants such as Callery pear, we know many people may ask, “If I cut down my Bradford pear tree, what should I replace it with,” or, “What should I plant instead of a Bradford or Callery Pear?”
The following are 10 native Missouri trees we recommend planting in place of Callery pear. These species not only challenge Callery pear in springtime beauty and/or fall color, but they also support the local ecosystem by providing food to wildlife that have coevolved with the trees over millennia. You can’t get much better than that.
Viburnum prunifolium (black haw viburnum) have flat heads of white flowers in the spring. Birds eat the purple-black fruit in the fall. The edible fruit tastes like raisins. Grow as a small tree or multi-stemmed shrub. The leaves develop a beautiful red color in fall. Viburnum photos by Fritz Flohr Reynolds and Suzanne Cadwell. Bradford Pear photos by Bruce Henry and MDC.
2. Prunus americana (Wild Plum)
Prunus americana, Wild Plum, can be grown as a single trunk tree or multi-stemmed shrub. The pure white, fragrant flowers are among the first to open in spring. Heavier flowering in sun. Yellow to red, round, edible fruits, 1″ in diameter. Host to Red-spotted Purple Butterfly and many moths. Wild plum photos by Becky Erickson.
3. Ostrya virginiana (Ironwood or Eastern Hophornbeam)
Ostrya virginiana (ironwood or Eastern hop hornbeam), is a tough understory tree with beautiful birch-like leaves, grayish-brown flaky bark, fine-textured drooping branches, and attractive hop-like fruits. Ironwood is considered one of Illinois’ toughest native hardwoods and is not only ornamental but resistant to many disease and insect problems.Ironwood photos from Flickr user Katja Schulz and Missouri Botanical Garden. Bradford pear photos from John Nekola and Flickr user wplynn.
4. Cercis canadensis (Eastern redbud)
Cercis canadensis (Eastern redbud) bears prolific, edible, deep pink flowers in early spring. Red-purple, pea-shaped seed pods follow the flowers. Heart-shaped leaves turn yellow in fall. Eastern redbud photos from Grow Native! and Flickr user Matthew Beziat. Bradford pear photos by Martin LaBar and Amanda Nichols.
5. Amelanchier arborea (Serviceberry)
Amelanchier arborea (serviceberry) is a tall shrub or small tree bearing clusters of fragrant white flowers in April. Flowers give rise to very flavorful, red to purple-black, berrylike fruits relished by both songbirds and people. This lovely tree has colorful fall foliage in a blend of orange, gold, red and green. Serviceberry photos by Flickr users Dan Mullen and RJ. Bradford pear photos by Martin LaBar and Amanda Nichols.
6. Carpinus caroliniana (American Hornbeam)
Carpinus caroliniana (American Hornbeam) is a small to medium multi-stemmed tree forming wide spreading rounded tops. A subtle beauty often overlooked. Simple toothed leaves are dark green and have variable yellow, orange, red or reddish purple fall color. Beautiful thin, bluish-gray bark that appears to “ripple” as the tree matures. Hence another common name: “Musclewood.” Hornbeam photos by Flickr users Wendy Cutler and Paco Garin. Bradford Pear photos by wplynn and Roger Smith.
7. Cornus florida (Flowering Dogwood)
Cornus florida (flowering dogwood) is a small, low-branched tree with spreading horizontal branches. Distinctive white flowers, 3″ in diameter, bloom mid-April to mid-May. Clusters of glossy red fruit in fall persist into winter and are relished by birds. Consistent deep red fall leaf color. Dogwood photos by Steve Harwood and Plant Image Library. Bradford pear photo courtesy MDC.
8. Nyssa sylvatica (Black Gum)
Nyssa sylvatica (black gum) is one of our most beautiful and underused native trees. Makes an excellent specimen tree, tidy shape. Attractive, glossy, dark green leaves that turn yellow, orange, and scarlet red in fall. Bark is dark gray to almost black, alligator-like patterns when old. Fruit the size of navy beans ripen to a dark blue in fall and are a favorite food to many birds. Host for the black and white Hebrew Moth. Learn more and find nurseries, landscape services and more at Grow Native! Black gum photos from Grow Native! and Flickr user Leonora (Ellie) Enking. Bradford Pear photos by wplynn and Roger Smith.
9. Cladrastis kentukea (Yellowwood)
Cladrastis kentukea (Yellowwood): very underused native that will fool some into thinking it is an exotic beauty! Medium sized tree, good for small areas, rich pea-green compound leaves with soft golden yellow fall color. The breathtaking, fragrant, creamy-white flowers occur in May on pendulous 8-14″ long panicles. Rarely heavily flowers annually, usually alternate flowering. The bark is very smooth and gray.Yellowwood photos from Flickr user Tom Gill and Grow Native! Bradford pear photos from John Nekola and MDC.
10. Prunus virginiana (Chokeberry or Chokecherry)
Prunus virginiana (chokeberry or chokecherry) is a small, suckering tree or large shrub with attractive white flowers on 3-6″ long clusters in spring. Fruit is red, ripening to purple in fall. Grow as a screen or as an understory planting as it has unusual shade tolerance for a cherry. Chokeberry photos from Grow Native! and Flickr user Frank D. Lospalluto. Bradford Pear photo from MDC.
Did you find this blog post useful? Please share these images on Instagram, share our gallery on Facebook, and encourage your neighbors to replace Bradford pear with native Missouri alternatives!
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.
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:
“…As these trees deteriorate or become unhealthy, they should be promptly removed to eliminate a source of pollen and seed.
The solution to this invasive issue ultimately lies in the hands of homeowners, landscapers and developers. Please consider one of the many non-invasive alternatives to Callery pear trees when undertaking new landscape projects or large community developments. A decrease in the number of Callery pear cultivars and hybrids would be beneficial for our entire community to potentially reduce power outages, save costs of trimming and tree removal, and create a more ecologically balanced community forest.”
Visit MoIP’s parent organization, Grow Native! to find resources for native Missouri/Midwest seed, nurseries, landscape services and more.