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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Invasive Pears?

After I discovered the little cherry tree at the edge of my woods, I also started to pay more attention to some other flowering shrubs or trees growing near the woods. They are not as showy or ornamental as that bunch of pink flowers, but do you know they weren't there before? I don't remember seeing them last spring, and I am almost certain they were not there when I first bought the property.

The flowers on the little shrub or tree look like this.

I began to wonder what sort of trees these were. Where had I seen flowers such as these before? I began to suspect that these may be somehow related to the pear trees in my front yard.

Pear blossoms just starting to bud 
 When my pear blossoms opened this year, they looked like this.

And on closer inspection, the pear blossoms looked like the same little bunches of flowers that were on the sapling in the woods, only larger and better developed.

Could the wild little blossoming trees by the woods be related to my pear trees? The Missouri Department of Conservation has recently issued a warning with regard to "invasive" Bradford pears. Could this be what they were talking about?

"Avoid Planting invasive trees such as the Bradford Pear" the article is called. Instead, they recommend planting redbud, or downy serviceberry. Now, in my defense, I did not plant any of my fruit trees, and their spread is entirely accidental. But if this accident results in more fruit for my family to eat, I am not inclined to disturb the natural spread of this "invasive" species.

What if I could have a garden of Eden on my property, where fruit grows on its own without cultivation? What if we could put an end to 'by the sweat of thy brow thou shalt eat bread." Isn't that exactly what Bow needs? Isn't it also what many poor people who do not have enough to eat need? Why would the Missouri Conservation Department be pulling up fruit trees and replacing them with redbud? Redbud is edible, that's true, but pears are even more edible!

Lots of conservation efforts seem to foster the eradication of plentiful food sources in favor of some kind of ornamental pretty landscape. When I went to the MDC nursery site, I did not see any fruit trees I wanted to order. They were pushing native varieties that Bow will not want to eat.

Yes, Bow is an invasive, too. Born in Missouri, he is not a native variety. My daughter and I are also transplants. Should I not identify with the poor Bradford pear and spare it the conservationist destruction?

Every year, Bow gets pears for Christmas and his birthday from his uncle. But someday his uncle and I may not be around to buy pears for Bow. Wouldn't it be great if he could pick his own pears on his very own island? I see some of those trees popping up in the pasture as well.

Above is a picture of Bow looking happy outside this morning. Below is a picture of Bow's pea plants as they now look.

Bow loves to have fresh peas with his lunch. Wouldn't it be great not to have to buy them at the store? But chimpanzees do not live by peas alone. So a pear orchard on my land that grows all by itself is not a bad idea. And it wasn't even my idea. The pears volunteered!


  1. Some of the conservation recommendations on invasive plants are a bit silly. A couple of years ago some contractors were paid thousands of dollars to spray the Spanish broom plants going down the Rim of the World Highway, and I thought that was ridiculous because these produce fragrant yellow flowers, and are quite beautiful. The irony is despite all the spraying these came back.

    1. Yes, Julia, that's a good example. I wonder at all the expense that must have gone into that largely futile act.

  2. First, I love the picture of Bow - he looks very happy in this photo!
    Secondly, I have mixed feelings over invasives. As there are many different kinds (plants & animals) I think each case has to be handled individually. For example, kudzu - it's smothering & killing all the trees in west Tennessee. I deal with English house sparrows and European starlings a lot while trying to host native bluebirds, chickadees, tree swallows, purple martins, woodpeckers, etc. (you know my feelings about them). When I say each case must be dealt with individually - for example, some fields are dedicated to growing fescue - because it's a good food for cattle, but it doesn't help our native pollinators - bees, butterflies, etc., at all. So, while my neighbor grows fescue, I kill it and grow native wildflowers. I can't allow thistle to grow and it is a prolific grower and would choke out my native wildflowers in just a few years. I also love Butterfly bush - a non-native grower. Many native-purists, would throw me out of the "grow-native" club if they knew that. BUT, butterfly bush, despite the MDCs contention, does not "invade". When's the last time you saw a Black knight butterfly bush growing wild somewhere? The reason I grow them, ironically, is because they keep their blooms very late into the Fall, when most other flowers have dropped their blooms at a time when I'm releasing Monarch butterflies that are finally ready. It's the only flower out there to which I can place them on to release them. So, I grow it. Multi-flora rose is a prickly, mean plant (ha!) - the thorns burn when I get pricked by one and I try to get rid of it, but it persists. I struggle with what to do with it because it does have food on it for our quail and provides good cover. Maybe I should just "manage" where it comes up. But I think the idea with invasives should perhaps be a more "managed" approach based on the purpose they're being used for - if Bow needs a self-sustaining island, then the pears would work great for him. But if my butterflies / bees need food, then only a native wildflower field would work for me.

    1. Hi, Kathy, I agree with you that it has to be decided case by case and landowner by landowner. I totally support your right to eradicate any species you don't want on your land. Where I get upset with some conservationists is when they try to dictate to others. But your attitude to the issue is much like my own.

  3. Yes, I agree - I don't want them dictating to me either. I figure most of us are pretty intelligent people. And even if we weren't, we have the right to make decisions about our own property.
    But sadly, there are stupid people out there...nothing to do with invasives, but I did have an issue with my neighbor when he placed a second lagoon on his property and it was in a watershed area that drained directly into my pond. We engaged the local health dept. to force him to move it. I didn't want my pond poisoned by his sewage, and I certainly didn't want to eat my fish that had been subjected to it. This is where I struggle with govt. regulations. It was a handy "lever" that I could engage to stop my neighbor (he certainly wasn't responding to my pleas to move the lagoon).

    1. Well, I agree with you there, too, Kathy. One person's rights end where another's begin. And the more crowded we are and the closer our neighbors are, the more their actions on their own land are likely to infringe on our rights, and the more necessary these interventions become. Imagine that you owned five thousand acres with a house in the middle. Probably your neighbor's action would not be as much of a problem.
      Did you know that in 1819 only seven percent of the Unites States population lived in cities? The closer we find ourselves to our neighbors, the more likely we are to suffer from what they do and to want it regulated.