Missouri Department of Conservation warns against Bradford Pear trees

Bradford pear trees prevent challenge to Heartland ecosystem

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - One of the most popular ornamental trees is actually a destructive invasive species and could be decreasing the value of public lands.

Many of you have probably noticed those white blooming trees just about everywhere in the Heartland.

They are Bradford Pear's and, while they're pretty to look at, they're becoming destructive to our ecosystem.

Originally from China and Taiwan, these trees can be invasive and in their own way, dangerous.

If one is growing in your front yard, plant experts say you might want to consider removing it.

"It was probably the number one selling tree 25, 30 years ago," Joe Touchette, owner of Plants Plus, said.

But today you won't find a single one for sale at Plants Plus; Touchette said he removed all Bradford trees from his lot years ago.

"It is one of the worst trees you can buy nowadays," he said. "Back then then the tree was newly developed and we didn't know what would happen to the tree when it got older. Now we are finding that they have a very weak branch structure."

Touchette said the introduction of other Bradford varieties has created even more problems.

"When that seed develops into a new tree, it is not the same as the parent, it's the old wild type and unfortunately that wild type is a very thorny, aggressive invasive plant," Touchette said.

Aside from their smell, the non-native tree poses a risk to the environment, impacting ecosystems in Southeast Missouri and the rest of the country.

Some nurseries still sell this type of tree because they are not prohibited in this area.

The Missouri Department of Conservation recommends that if anyone is looking to plant an ornamental tree to research first and try to find a native species.

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