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Callery Pears: A Thorny, Invasive Offspring

Making It Grow Minute Extra logo

This offspring of the Bradford pear not only spreads like crazy, it also has treacherous thorns.

In the spring of the year, you can easily see the invasive nature of the Bradford pear offspring – callery pears. In a retention pond I pass daily, at least a dozen have rapidly grown to fifteen feet from seeds that washed in with storm water. An abandoned building in St. Matthews which planted one tree twenty years ago now is surrounded by a forest of these aggressive, heavily thorned invasives. To remove them you must cut them and paint the stump with an approved full-strength herbicide. If you just cut them down, they’ll resprout from the root stock. The lethal thorns make handling the cut limbs dangerous even for experts as they can easily inflect a serious puncture wound even through tough canvas clothing. Their invasive nature crowds out native plants that offer animals more variety in food and shelter.

Amanda McNulty is a Clemson University Extension Horticulture agent and the host of South Carolina ETV’s Making It Grow! gardening program. She studied horticulture at Clemson University as a non-traditional student. “I’m so fortunate that my early attempts at getting a degree got side tracked as I’m a lot better at getting dirty in the garden than practicing diplomacy!” McNulty also studied at South Carolina State University and earned a graduate degree in teaching there.