South Carolina has taken the rare step to ban sales of the popular, but invasive, Bradford pear tree that is still sold in some nurseries as experts across the state fear the damage the spread of the tree has already done might not be undone for decades.
The Bradford pear and the wild Callery pear trees its fruit produce are known for their early spring white flowers and turn-up-your-nose odor.
They’ve also become known as one of the weakest structural trees in existence, with branches that commonly break after 10 to 15 years and a short life expectancy of 20 to 30 years.
Starting on Oct. 1, 2024, nurseries in South Carolina will be prohibited from selling the trees. The state will become the second in the country to ban them behind Ohio, where sales will cease in 2023.
Many nurseries have already stopped selling the trees, though they can still be found at some national retailers.
The ban affects the Bradford pear and any other tree grown from the Pyrus calleryana rootstock.
State lawmakers and the state’s Crop Pest Commission approved the ban after an advisory panel added the tree to the State Plant Pest List.
The Bradford pear was introduced to the United States in the 1950s as a solution to “fire blight” — which causes the tips of pear tree branches to brown and die — that affected European pears that dotted urban landscapes, said David Coyle, assistant professor of Forest Health and Invasive Species at Clemson, who started a Bradford bounty program at Clemson two years ago to encourage residents to cut down and replace the Bradford pears.
It was a fast-growing tree resistant to fire blight and thought to be sterile so its seeds wouldn’t reproduce, Coyle said. The U.S. Department of Agriculture approved the tree, and it was marketed for residential landscaping.
It became popular for its low price and quick growth as a shade tree but arborists noticed as soon as the 1960s that it had spread invasively.
Though technically sterile, its fruit can cross pollinate with any other variety of pear tree and produces Callery pear trees with viable fruit and sharp, strong thorns, Coyle said.
Durant Ashmore, a veteran Greenville landscape designer, said he never liked the “lollipop in the landscape” look of the Bradford pears white flowers and shape, so he didn’t use them.
But plenty of other landscapers did, and about 20 years ago Ashmore said he started to notice the spread of Callery pears across fallow fields in the Upstate.
He started to barnstorm against the trees about the same time experts in the field noticed the same issue. Within a few years, most local nurseries had stopped selling them, and some cities removed them from lists of trees developers could plant in new subdivisions.
“Bradford pears became popular, for one, because they’re so cheap, but we knew early on that they had structural problems and were dangerous,” said Ashmore, a landscaper for 40 years who owns Durant Ashmore Landscape Nursery.
As birds and squirrels dined on Bradford pears and their waste allowed cross-breeding of Callery pear trees, the fast-growing, early-flowering trees have begun to choke out the natural landscape in fields across the state and country.
Where pine trees and then oak, maple and dogwoods would normally thrive, Callery pears now dominate. And the Callery pears’ thorns are strong enough to puncture tractor tires, so normal bushhogging of land isn’t an option to rid fields of the trees, which have become a thorn in the side of farmers, Ashmore said.
Stopping the sale of the trees is just one tactic to slow the invasive spread, said Steven Long, the state’s State Plant Regulatory Official and chairman of the South Carolina Invasive Species Advisory Committee.
It’s up to residents and local governments to remove existing trees and replace them with natural species, he said.
It may be a 50-year process to bring the Callery pear population under control, he said.
“Banning Bradford pears is one thing, but we are going to be dealing with the effects of the Callery pear for decades, if not centuries,” said Ashmore, who wrote a viral column, The Curse of the Bradford Pear, in 2016 in The Greenville News.
Long noted that while the sale of Bradford pears will become illegal, it is still legal to own the tree, though he encouraged residents to consider replacing the trees with another variety.
The ban of an invasive species that’s actively being sold is a rare step for the state regulators to take, Long said. They spent two years gathering feedback and reaching out to industry representatives before making the decision, he said.
“When you look at taking something like that out of the industry, it can be what’s best for the landscape, but it doesn’t mean you’ll get public support for it,” he said.
In this case, industry representatives didn’t offer much resistance.
Long called it a new precedent for the invasive species advisory group that might look to add other invasive species to the pest plant list in the coming years.
Read the original article by Nathaniel Cary in The Greenville News here.
Preparations for the 2022 California Spring Trials are underway as the breeder trade event is set to go from Wednesday, March 30 through Sunday, April 3, 2022.
The breeding companies participating in California Spring Trials gathered at the Cultivate'21 show in Columbus, Ohio, last week to discuss the future of the event. Prior to the meeting, a survey was sent to CAST attendees from 2019 and 2021. Survey members were asked their preference on timing as well as the styles of displays, among other things, according to a press release from BlueSkye Creative.
More than half of the surveyed respondents who attended 2019, but did not in 2021, replied that the summer dates did not work for their schedule. And 38% mentioned that COVID-19 precautions kept them from traveling. For those that did attend, 75% preferred the traditional marketing displays, while 25% preferred the newer in-ground displays found at many breeding locations. Overall, 67% of all respondents preferred the traditional spring dates over summer.
A group of 20 companies comprised of breeders and brokers met at the Cultivate show to determine the dates for the next two years, with plenty of space from the Easter holiday.
2022: Wednesday, March 30 – Sunday, April 3
2023: Wednesday, March 29 – Sunday, April 2
Guests who plan to attend the 2022 California Spring Trials need to make their reservations with each site individually. Event contact information including site details will be found at 2022CAST.com.
For more information about the upcoming 2022 California Spring Trials, contact BlueSkye Creative firstname.lastname@example.org.
Suntory’s Cultivate’21 booth called to mind the great road trips of the past, with a vintage 1971 Airstream trailer as the centerpiece. The Airstream was completely retrofitted on the inside to be a comfortable space for Suntory and Sun-Fire Nurseries personnel to have meetings away from the noise of the trade show floor.
The Airstream made many attendees stop in their tracks, but as they looked closer they would see the Granvia display complementing the silver trailer. The letters spelling Granvia were made from dried flowers.
Granvia Gold is a Bracteantha that is new for 2021. The common name is strawflower, and the flowers have a bloom size of 3-5 inches.
“I call it a super strawflower,” says Delilah Onofrey, marketing director for Suntory Flowers. “I’ve even called it a Bracteasaurus because compared to the strawflowers on the market not only is the flower bigger but the whole body is so much bigger. If you visit the trial gardens and they’re near each other, it just dwarfs the rest of them and makes this amazing landscape specimen.”
The Granvia Gold strawflower has been racking up awards, including a Best of Show from Plantpeddler, a Director’s Select and Best of Species from Penn State University and a Top 10 Performer from the University of Minnesota, all in 2020.
Onofrey says that in addition to stellar landscape performance, the Granvia also works well in containers, like the whiskey barrel set out on the porch. It also has been found to be resistant to mildew and rust.
Granvia is another breeding success from Andrew Bernuetz, the Australian breeder also responsible for Suntory’s scaevola, Princettia euphorbias and Grandaisy argyrantheum.
One of the other top attractions at Suntory’s Cultivate booth was Sun Parasol 'Original Sunbeam.'
This mandevilla is earlier to flower than standard options and is more self-branching with no pinching required. This early flowering (2-3 weeks), quick-finishing mandevilla hybrid performs great in high light conditions with no fading or washing out on the blooms. According to Suntory, it’s one of the only yellows on the market. New for 2022, its upright, bushy habit performs well in containers. With the introduction of Sunbeam, Sun Parasol now offers seven colors.
If you want a chance to see the Airstream in action, you have a few chances this summer. The Suntory Alive with Flowers Airstream tour continues July 28-29 in Litchfield, Michigan for a visit to Raker-Roberta’s Trial Garden. Next, the Airstream travels to Cresco, Iowa for Plantpeddler Variety Day August 6.
J. Berry Nursery and Genetics introduced the newest addition to the Hollywood Hibiscus series at Cultivate’21. First Lady is a prolific bloomer with fantastic disease and insect resistance, according to Tamara Risken, J. Berry’s marketing director.
First Lady joins the Hollywood lineup and will be available at retail in 2022.
“The flowers are a bit smaller here at the show because they’re not houseplants, but she blooms nonstop in the Texas heat and in South Florida she’s a grower’s favorite,” Risken says.
The Hollywood Hibiscus line keeps expanding, with 14 “personalities” available currently and more in the pipeline, including First Lady and The Hustler, which is also planned for a 2022 release. Jim Berry, owner of Texas-based J. Berry Nursery and Genetics, keeps coming up with new ideas. However, each “star” that joins the Hollywood Hibiscus line is the result of a team effort, Risken says. Research and development at J. Berry makes recommendations, Berry consults with sales and marketing on ideas, as well. Then from a production standpoint, the nursery sets up trials with its licensed growers and contract growers.
“We get a lot of people on the phone and ask their thoughts because something that performs well in Texas may not perform in South Florida,” Risken says.
J. Berry has growers in Florida, Texas, the West Coast and even Hawaii, where hibiscus run rampant. Risken says their no. 1 producer for the year was Native Farms in Hawaii. The grower provided feedback that even near the jungle, with every known pest and tons of humidity the Hollywood Hibiscus are successful and popular.
“Hollywoods are thriving and customers are paying top-dollar for them in Hawaii even though hibiscus is everywhere,” Risken says. “People want the Hollywoods because of the flowers, the fanciness, the neatness. That speaks to our grower maintaining our quality standards and doing a fantastic job with the presentation at retail. It’s a combination of effort the genetics, the growing, the marketing.”