(FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) – South Carolina is banning the sale of a once-popular tree, that’s just been added to the state’s Plant Pest List. Nurseries will now be asked to stop growing and selling the Bradford Pear tree starting on October 1, 2024 per state regulators.
“Bradford Pear’s gotten a bad rap over the years,” said Steve Crump, Co-Owner and Nursery Manager at Rolling Hills Nursery in Rock Hill.
Crump explained that the Bradford Pear is actually a good tree by itself, but the problem is, it’s very good at cross pollinating and it’s been abused by their industry.
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“They used to graft them to a Callery Pear root stock, so they don’t grow on their own roots, they grow on the other roots. Well, the Bradford part would die and the Callery would take off and it’s very invasive,” he said.
All of that means some less-than-desirable qualities including foul-smelling blooms, thorns, and they don’t hold up well in storms.
Crump said, “It puts on thorns about 3 inches long; it’ll puncture a tractor or a truck tire.”
Steven Long, the chairman of the South Carolina Invasive Species Advisory Committee said that by adding the tree to the pest list, nurseries will have a bit of a grace period.
“We want to give folks the ability to transition out of the use of that plant, so it wouldn’t be fair to the nurseries to just cold-turkey, ask them to throw away all of their Bradford Pear planting stock.”
Long said that the tree’s aggressive nature is hard to keep up with.
“In undeveloped lots, we’ve seen it completely take over, so it displaces native plants,” he explained.
Crump added that the trees became popular in the 1980s because they grew quickly and they were inexpensive.
The good news: he doesn’t think the ban will impact business. He said, “Honestly, we ain’t grown or sold them in 10 years.”
But Crump and other nurseries sold thousands of tree’s when they were popular, which is why Long said kicking the species out of the state will take some time.
“We could eventually see eradication, but admittedly that’s going to be a very long road ahead and a big task,” Long said.
Long added that he doesn’t think they’ll have to issue fines to nurseries that don’t comply with the ban in next three years.
South Carolina is now the second state to ban the Bradford Pear tree. Ohio’s ban goes into effect in 2023.