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More seedlings than ever

Iris GW
15 years ago

I had already noticed in my own yard, but today while walking in the neighborhood I saw even more. I'm talking about ornamental pear seedlings - the kind that sprout from the berries that 'Bradford' and 'Cleveland Select' trees make.

When 'Bradford' pear was first developed, it was billed as a "sterile" tree. However, as more cultivars were introduced and more widely planted, these "sterile" trees turned into fruit producing trees (thanks to cross pollination). This is especially more common as people choose 'Cleveland Select' because they have heard that 'Bradford' pears have growth issues. Trees that never produced fruit in older neighborhoods are now making berries.

Several states have now labeled ornamental pears as "weeds". In the spring you can see seedlings blooming on roadsides throughout the south, increasing the spread (and the ability to cross pollinate) even further.

My immediate neighbor has one large tree. The number of seedlings I find in one year has increased from 2-3 to over 15 this year. I found five on the roadside elsewhere in the neighborhood this morning. Seedlings are not desirable trees, by the way, they have none of the good features of 'Bradford' and usually revert back to the natural thorny form.

I have scanned a few of the seedlings I found this morning so that you can see how to identify them early. Notice the distinctive reddish stem and serrated leaves:

For those of you considering this tree, please reconsider. If you like white blooming spring trees, substitutes include Serviceberry (a favorite with birds) and 'Winter King' Hawthorn.

Here is a link that might be useful: Pyrus calleryana

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