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Saxonburg considering removing Main Street trees

The Flowering Dwarf Pear Trees along Main Street in Saxonburg have been officially classed as an invasive species and town officials are thinking of removing them. Ed Thompson/Butler Eagle

SAXONBURG — The trees along Main Street may look nice, but they’re actually a species recently classified as invasive — the Dwarf Flowering Pear, also known as the Callery Pear.

As a result, borough council considered a motion at the Tuesday, Feb. 20 meeting to replace the trees.

According to borough manager Steven May, the borough received a letter in 2023 from the state of Pennsylvania advising them that the tree species would be banned in the state by the start of 2025.

“In 2024, the department will say ‘no more’,” said May. “They’re an invasive species to Pennsylvania, and they are going to be banned by 2025.”

He added that FirstEnergy had already begun pruning trees that had started touching their power lines.

The Callery pear, once a popular choice for beautifying homes and streets, was added to Pennsylvania’s “noxious weed list” in December 2021. By February 2024, all plant merchants in Pennsylvania will be required to stop selling or distributing the species.

According to horticulture experts, the Callery pear has a tendency to compete aggressively with native and nonnative tree species. Its dense thickets give it the means to spread rapidly and replace other trees, while escaping its original planted area.

“They’re original to China and Vietnam, and they were brought to Pennsylvania because they were thought to be a beautiful ornamental that was sterile,” said Diane Dallos of the Penn State Extension in Butler County. “While the original trees were sterile, it was found that when they are cross-pollinated with other trees in the landscape, they create seeds that then become transplanted by birds. Therefore they invade areas where we don’t want ornamental trees that are nonnative.”

Council member Brian Antosyk said if the borough does move forward with removing the trees, the task would most likely be performed by the borough’s own field crew rather than by a professional arborist.

“From my understanding it would be our guys doing it,” Antosyk said.

The borough is still undecided on what would replace the pear trees. However, according to council president Aaron Piper, the replacement trees would not be fruit-bearing.

“We probably should replace it with something, because it is a beautiful sight,” Piper said.

No action was taken on the matter at Tuesday’s meeting. The motion was tabled to the next borough council meeting on Tuesday, March 19. This would give the council time to determine the cost of removing the trees down altogether versus simply pruning them.

“Steve will have the opportunity to talk to the field crew to see what their capabilities are and if we can do it in-house,” Antosyk said.

Dwarf flowering pear trees line Main Street in Saxonburg. The borough council is considering removing them, as the state of Pennsylvania now considers them a noxious weed. Submitted photo
Dwarf flowering pear trees line Main Street in Saxonburg. The borough council is considering removing them, as the state of Pennsylvania now considers them a noxious weed. Submitted photo
The Flowering Dwarf Pear Trees along Main Street line up all the way down both sided of the street. They have now been officially classed as an invasive species and town officials are thinking of removing them. Ed Thompson/Butler Eagle 02/23/2024
The Flowering Dwarf Pear Trees along Main Street line up all the way down both sided of the street. They have now been officially classed as an invasive species and town officials are thinking of removing them. Ed Thompson/Butler Eagle 02/23/2024

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