With about 1,000 ornamental pear trees dying from a fungus known as “pear rust” throughout Lynbrook, village officials have authorized the Department of Public Works to request proposals for a service that would plant a variety of new trees to replace them.
“Hopefully we’ll have someone contracted by the end of November,” said DPW Superintendent Phil Healey. “The ideal plan to transport most trees is in November, and you want to be done planting the trees in April.”
The village’s board of trustees permitted the DPW to accept bids this month, and will likely choose a local service. Healey told the board that the bid would see about 700 trees planted over the next three years. The village typically plants between 150 to 200 trees per year. Trees that are spreading the disease will be the first to be replaced and the trees that are healthier will only have their infected limbs cut off to preserve their lives for several more years, according to Healey. “We’re definitely evaluating each tree individually,” he said.
The fungus, a form of apple rust, is slowly rotting the trees and could result in fallen limbs. “It puts the tree under tremendous stress, and in three or four years, it will be dead,” Healey said.
According to Vincent Drzewucki, a subject educator in the horticulture, urban and community forestry department at Cornell University’s Cooperative Extension, ornamental pear trees are an invasive species in New York. He recommends that they are no longer planted in New York. In Lynbrook, village officials took the ornamental pear trees off of its list of trees that could be planted after they noticed some of the trees were infected more than five years ago.
Drzewucki said the problem has festered for about a decade, but is worse now. He added that it affects parts of Suffolk County as well as New York City, but is most prevalent in Nassau County’s downtown areas, where municipalities failed to diversify their tree population. “If we could diversify the tree population, I think going forward, we would have a much healthier tree population,” he told the Herald in August.
Any homeowner that has pear trees should spray fungicide on them when they are dormant in the fall, and again in the early spring before they bloom, according to Joe Dee, of Dees’ Nursery & Florist in Oceanside. “If not taken care of, eventually it can weaken the tree enough to kill it,” Dee said, “but if everyone’s worried that their tree’s going to die this first year of having it, it’s not going to happen. They’ll be OK.”
This year, however, Dee said the problem, which he said has existed for the last few years, is the worst he has seen. He added that the disease has caused sales of pear trees at his nursery to plummet.
“There’s no such thing as a plant that doesn’t get some sort of insect or disease in its life cycle,” Dee said. “That’s just nature … but there are remedies to correct things.”