Pearmageddon Strikes Again!

The Greenville News

They’re blooming now. The great onslaught is upon us. Invasive, insidious and insane. It’s the Curse of the Bradford Pear, and it’s rearing its ugly head once again.

It’s the overwhelming invasion of our native plants and trees by millions of foreign invaders. It’s apocalyptic. It’s Pearmageddon.

With minor exceptions, all those white flowering trees you see blooming for the next several weeks throughout the Piedmont are the evil offspring of Bradford pear, the worst tree ever introduced into the landscape. A tree that was once thought to be a sterile hybrid has reproduced uncontrollably and is now dominating our fallow fields, choking out new life in the process.

Today’s fallow fields are our future forests. As you know, it takes a little while for forests to develop. There is a process that forests go through before majestic canopies evolve. When monkey wrenches get thrown into that process, forests fail.

It’s called the Natural Order of Succession. Over a forty year period fallow fields grow dominant vegetation in an ordered process. The first year is dominated by grasses such as broomsedge, the second year is dominated by taller plants like dog fennel and sumac, and in the third year the pines get established.

By year ten pines are the dominant tree after a field has been allowed to go dormant. Hardwoods such as oaks and maples emerge, and by year twenty there is an equal mix of pines and hardwoods. By year thirty, the pines are dying out, and by year forty oaks, hickories and maples are the dominate trees in the Piedmont forest. Understory trees such as dogwood, redbud and serviceberry also become established at this time. This is the Piedmont forest we love and cherish, and it is a productive habitat for wildlife of every sort.

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