Don’t plant this invasive pear tree for Arbor Day

Don’t plant this invasive pear tree for Arbor Day

MISSOURI (KFVS) - Many in the Heartland will be celebrating Arbor Day this month by planting a tree, but before you buy a sapling,  conservationists are asking the public to not plant Bradford pear trees.

Also known as the Callery Pear tree, which is native to China and Vietnam, the common medium-sized landscaping tree has been planted in the US for decades.

But in the last five years, Rocky Hayes, a Forestry Regional Supervisor with the Missouri Department of Conservation, said Bradford trees have started growing in other areas that they were not planted.

"They are popping up in fields and pastures, and it's very apparent the aggressive nature of this species,"  Hayes said. "The seed of the Bradford pear is mainly disseminated by wildlife and it grows quickly and will crowd out some of our native species."

Hayes admits Bradford Pear trees do have redeeming qualities like being low maintenance and having white blooms in early Spring, but still thinks it's negative aspects outweigh the positives.

"The invasive nature of it, and it's also very prone to ice and wind damage," Hayes said. "Bradford pears just don't hold up well to ice.  It's all because they have a really shallow branch angle. It's just poor structure and the genetic makeup of the tree."

Paul Schnare, the owner of Sunny Hill Gardens, agrees that Bradford pears have a lot of 'issues', so he suggests other blooming trees that last longer so customers get their money's worth.

"Weeping cherries do really well in this area," Schnare said. "There are some white ones and some pink ones that you can put in your landscape to get that 'Wow' if you will like you would get from a Bradford pear but they don't have all the other problems."

Native alternatives that Hayes suggest as great substitutes for Bradford pears trees include flowering dogwood, serviceberry, wild plum, redbud and rusty blackhaw.

"Our native species have a lot to offer if you look at the whole package," he said. "They're adapted to our climate, they've evolved in our soils, and you're going to have a tree that is going to be there twice or three times as long as than the Bradford pear."

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