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The Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society


Pyrus calleryana is one of the most problematic invasive species in the eastern United States. The mechanisms that enable Py. calleryana to establish and outcompete native plants are not fully understood but likely include a profile of advantageous traits. Extended leaf phenology is a characteristic noted in many woody invasive plants. Leaf phenology of Py. calleryana and two native woody species, Populus deltoides and Platanus occidentalis, was observed in natural areas near Dayton, OH from December 2019 to November 2020. A frost event in May also gave us the serendipitous opportunity to assess frost tolerance of these species. We found that Py. calleryana began leafing out almost a month before its native competitors in the spring and kept its leaves on significantly longer than both Po. deltoides and Pl. occidentalis throughout the fall. After the frost event, almost every leaf on Pl. occidentalis died and almost 70% of the leaves on Po. deltoides were damaged; however, Py. calleryana exhibited damage on only 6% of its leaves. Our study suggests that Py. calleryana has a nearly 1-mo advantage in leaf phenology in both spring and fall, and much greater frost tolerance, as compared with native species. These attributes likely contribute to its capacity to outcompete native trees in early successional habitats.

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Print ISSN: 1095-5674; Online ISSN: 1940-0616

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Torrey Botanical Society



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