The Mystery of the Orange Dust Falling From Pear Trees in Ohio Has Been Solved

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Add "a mysterious orange dust falling from pear trees in Ohio" to the list of natural anomalies occurring in 2020.

Scientists and experts have identified the orange dust as an orange fungus that has been falling from pear trees in Sharonville, outside Cincinnati. Sharonville is known for their Callery pear trees, but 2020 is the first time locals have noticed the orange dust falling from them.

Joe Boggs photographs the orange fungus.
Joe Boggs / OSU Extension

"It's just so thick, like orange Cheetos or like sidewalk chalk that somebody ground up and just kind of scattered, but it's under each individual tree so you can just kind of look down the street and see these little pops of orange all over the sidewalk," one resident Julie Dietrich told WXIX-TV.

Similar pear trees across the state have been said to have developed the orange fungus spores as well.

"We had the right environment," Joe Boggs, an assistant professor of horticulture at Ohio State University, told Inside Edition Digital. "The spring was cool and wet, making it contagious [and] leading to a perfect storm for infection to occur."

Boggs explained that the fungus and the spores spend half of their life on juniper trees and "developed the infection" on those trees, adding "the rust spores come off and float over and if they land on developing fruit trees, like a Callery pear, [and] it can lead to infection."

He added that the infection will go back and forth between the two trees.

"We didn't know they could cross and start producing fruit," he added. "They started producing fruit and it was highly evasive."

Boggs said that this "can happen in your own backyard" and is not limited to Ohio, it is just that the state had the elements that acted "all at once" following the spring climate.

The trees, which are common in the midwest and mid-Atlantic are "the perfect urban tree," according to Boggs, who says they are tough and can withstand many elements.

The fungus can't infect humans, but can lead to allergies and cause people to sneeze, according to Boggs.

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