RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Do you have what it takes to spot this invasive species?
The Virginia Department of Forestry is asking for your help with tracking the number of invasive Callery pear trees around the commonwealth. You may be more familiar with a commonly known Callery pear cultivar, the Bradford pear, which was bred to lack thorns.
A harbinger of the new season, Callery pear trees announce in a silent but smelly way that spring has arrived. The tree’s flowers are some of the first to bloom across the East Coast and while beautiful, the flowers emit an aroma often compared to rotting fish, urine and other pungent bodily fluids.
Native to East Asia, the tree was originally highly sought after for its clusters of dense white flowers and fast growth but is now considered to be highly invasive, out-competing and preventing the growth of native plants, according to the Virginia Invasive Species database.
Callery pear trees have been documented in many counties across the Piedmont region, and across Virginia as a whole. Now, the Virginia Department of Forestry is asking for help with increasing documentation of the total population of the invasive species. But, those on the lookout for the Callery pear should be aware there could be innocent imposters in the midst.
Callery pears have the ability to reach up to 60 feet tall and can be distinguished by their abundant, pungent blooms and oval-shaped leaves which turn bright red in the fall. The trees also produce marble-sized hard fruit.
Spotting the tree may be harder than you think, with several native species sharing similar traits with the Callery.
“Look for trees blooming with small white flowers along fencerows, old fields, roadsides and disturbed lots,” the Virginia Department of Forestry said in a statement online.
Both the Chokeberry and the Serviceberry trees are similar in looks to the Callery pear, both are native to Virginia and are recommended alternatives for landscaping.
If you believe you’ve stumbled upon a Callery pear tree in Virginia, you can report the invasive plant online here. Once you’ve created an account, the online tracker will allow you to submit the exact location of the tree, and even upload images.