That Ornamental Could Be a Menace

Published on: Mar. 8, 2012

It’s not easy to nurture trees for eight years, pampering them so they can take hold in what little soil they can find in our rocky Ozark ground. But it’s even harder to cut them down and yank their roots out of the ground with a tractor, knowing that all your hard work has been wasted!

But It Must be Done

Who would do such a crazy thing? My neighbors, Karen and Herman Lorenz, and they are to be commended for their actions! Their property has a commanding view of the “hills and hollers” along the Jacks Fork River. They also border a piece of Rocky Creek Conservation Area. Their house and yard is beautiful, and Karen has planted a number of trees to provide shade and fruit for the animals. Unfortunately, four of the trees she had planted were callery pears, sold to her as the “Cleveland Select Ornamental pear."

Forbidden Fruits

The original cultivar of ornamental pears, the "Bradford" pear, did not produce fruit, but was very weak-branched. Many newer cultivars were developed to address this issue, but they have cross-pollinated one another, and the result is fruit-producing trees. Karen's thriving trees were covered in tiny, cherry-sized pears, just the size a bird would love to eat. That might be great for the birds, but it’s a menace for the natural integrity of the surrounding woodlands and forests.

They Don’t Fight Fair

Callery pears are appearing in natural areas throughout the state, creating a white haze of blossoms in the early springtime. They leaf out far earlier than our native trees and shrubs and hold their leaves longer in the fall, shading out and smothering many of our native wildflowers. They sprout and grow very rapidly in either shade or sun, outcompeting our native oaks. In sunny areas, like old fields or prairies, they rapidly become a monoculture. Even fruitless trees are a problem: when their weak branches inevitably break apart, they re-sprout from the rootstock, creating a thorny, fruit-producing tree.

It Just Had to Go

Karen was very sad to hear that her trees were such a menace, and no doubt didn’t want to hear that she should kill them! She might have hesitated, but then the guy at the feed store confirmed my opinion, telling her what a scourge the trees had become on his property. She and Herman yanked them from the ground that very afternoon. She also removed two small mimosa trees that she had nurtured (another invasive exotic tree). Thank you, Karen and Herman!

Be a Friend to Nature: Grow Native

It isn’t wrong to have a few exotic plants in your garden. But if the exotic you are growing produces fruit or berries that are carried by the birds or the wind, your vine, bush or tree has the potential to start a serious problem and threatens our native wildflowers, be brave: yank it up and plant a native!

Key Messages: 

Missourians care about conserving forests, fish and wildlife.

Comments

On March 13th, 2012 at 4:15pm HillBillyZ said:

Bradford pears do provide a wonderful/beautiful landscape look to one's yard, along with Maples and poplars. Mr. Wilkins, if you remember the Springfield Ice storm tragedy that caused much of the urban planted trees to be broke off at each limb and sometimes dramatically at the trunk. These trees, many of them, were non native! I believe MDC is trying to say that planting trees is a GOOD THING! But, like everything, there are BETTER trees to plant than Bradford Pears, Mimosa's, etc. that can create BETTER habitat, BETTER food sources, and be just as beautiful. Remember the story, her friends didn't uproot all the trees, just a few and I'm sure their yard is just as beautiful!

On March 12th, 2012 at 8:03am smitht2 said:

Mr. Wilkins: Your comment wasn't posted until this morning because you sent it on a Sunday. Someone has to approve all blog comments because much of what we receive is auto-generated spam. Because we don't routinely work on Sundays, comments sent over the weekend won't be posted immediately.

On March 11th, 2012 at 10:22am wayne wilkins said:

Why wasn't my comment posted? It was 100% correct and truth! If you can't take critisized then don't put these stories up and then want points of views. I'd like an answer from you in my E-mail as to why it wasn't posted and Monday I'll call the main office to find out why! YOUR point of view is not always correct nor the answer. Wayne M. Wilkins

On March 11th, 2012 at 9:32am cardem said:

Thanks for the comment Angela.  I had a mimosa like that in my front yard when I was a kid.  I loved to climb up in it and be surrounded by the wonderful smell and all the butterflies and bees who came to feast.  I loved that tree.  Ornamentals like that can provide a splash of color, wildlife habitat and wonderful memories.  It is okay to have an exotic ornamental or two around but when given a choice, there are some wonderful ornamentals that could fill your need.  Check out the Grow Native! distributors across the state for some ideas.  Remember that if there are volunteers that come up to treat them before they become a problem.  Enjoy that old family friend but keep natives in mind for the future.  Thanks again for reading the Pine Needle.

On March 11th, 2012 at 8:09am Angel Mason said:

I'm thirty seven years old and for as long as I can remember there has been a mimosa tree on my grandma's farm. I really can't tell you how long its been there, its just always been there. It's the only one. No others have cropped up from it anywhere else on the farm. It's is beautiful and full of butterflies and humming birds in the summer and fall. It really doesn't seem like a menace to me. Especially when you walk up it and a hundred butterflies fly out of it. It's really a sight to see.

On March 11th, 2012 at 5:27am wayne wilkins said:

What is worse, the tree or humans. There are non native species of plants and animals that adapt to new areas very well. Just like you bringing in NON native Trout to our waters, and that's Okay? Why didn't you stock those waters with native species? You allow all these humans to keep buying up and taring up the native lands to build houses where they shouldn't. So they can have a VIEW! What they want, messes up your view... Go live in a city somewhere and then go and drive to these areas where it's suppose to be native. There is so much private property now in the areas where we're all suppose to be able to enjoy but can't cause so idiot states, this is private property.!!!!! But this has all gone too far to return. Get rid of all cows and return the Buffalo to it's native areas. Elk and all other species that once roamed in Missouri. I, have found that the so called experts that work for state and federal wildlife agencies are some of the biggest offenders of violating what your trying to stop. Oh, lets get rid of this tree, but lets keep the Trout???????? Oh lets just build everywhere and have no open lands for all to enjoy. At least the tree is beautiful, but the humans that build are ugly! Justt think, if the ugly human hadn't built there, then this beautiful tree wouldn't be there. Personally, I'd rather see the tree than the humans. The tree stops eroison, provides shade, gives off Oxygen, is beautiful. The humans creates eroison, sucks up the Oxygen, cuts down all the shade and is ugly! As I stated earlier, your agency is just as guilty of what your article is about. You need to realize also, that some new species of animals and plants are a benefit and can thrive and survive where other native have died off and couldn't survive. It's humans that are the problem, not that tree... So don't be a hypocrite.

On March 11th, 2012 at 12:10am Ken Roussel said:

If it isn't native, don't plant it and expect anything but PROBLEMS!!!! We have too many of the "Bradford" pears up here, and they are a pain in the landscaper's life!!! They don't survive good downbursts and ice storms, and they don't make good firewood, just another reason to cut 'em and use the bodies in the fire pit, en masse!!!! Mimosas are a pain, too much mess, even though the imported squirrels like the seeds when nothing else is around..........a scourge on the Ozarks is the red cedar, proliferating throughout old pastures and prairie areas, cut 'em out, use the big trunks for fence posts, make walking sticks from the suitable limbs and small trunks with root boles, but move 'em out, not good for livestock (i.e. goats and wool sheep) as well as just plain taking over a good pasture hillside!!!! Time to reclaim our midwestern ground.....if you have them for a big windbreak around the house, trim 'em, and watch your pastures, fields and hillsides...they're going to BE where you DO NOT WANT THEM!!!! Ornamentals are just that, look at them in someone else's environment, not in the Missouri and Kansas outdoors!!!! Be Well, y'all, molater, kkr
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