Walnut Woods Metro Park cutting down invasive trees

By Rick Palsgrove
Groveport Editor

Have you noticed excavating going on in Walnut Woods Metro Park near Groveport’s Heritage Park? The work is being done to combat a leafy invader.

Walnut Woods Metro Park officials hired a company to remove a large number of callery pear trees that took root in the park near its border with Groveport’s Heritage Park.

“We are just removing the invasive callery pear tree from the area,” said Walnut Woods Park Manager Mindi McConnell. “It really took over and we are trying to get a handle on it. There are lots and lots of them. They are clearing 30 acres in that area. We are wanting native trees to grow and for the area to reforest.”

The tree originated in China and southeast Asia and was imported to the United States in the 1960s as an ornamental tree. The tree is now considered an invasive species of tree by arborists because it spreads quickly and drives out native species.

McConnell said the callery pear was planted in housing developments because they are a beautifully flowered tree in the spring.

“Starlings eat the berries and spread them widely across the land and, if it is a bare field, these trees will quickly take over,” said McConnell.

She said the trees grow from seed to three feet in height in a year or so.

“It was soon discovered that these beautiful trees were very bad for the environment so someone, the state maybe, put a ban on selling them,” said McConnell. “Tree nurseries were given five years to sell out of what they had and after five years it would be unlawful to sell them. I think we have a couple years left. But, also these trees existed on our park property, left over from the days of the Eastside Nursery. We tried remove as much as possible, but it is very hard to stay ahead.”

McConnell said there are other invasive species near Rohr Road as well, but not nearly as many as the callery pear trees.

“There are honeysuckle and autumn olive and they are being removed from the area as well,” said McConnell.

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