With their white blooms, Calllery pear trees (which include the popular Bradford pear) are most obvious at this time of year. These highly-invasive trees threaten wildlife and cause difficulties for private and public landowners. A new event invites homeowners to cut down their Callery pears and receive a free non-invasive replacement tree.
Johnson County Park and Recreation District and Deep Roots, in partnership with the Missouri Invasive Plant Council, will host a Callery Pear Buy-Back Event on Saturday, April 23. The event will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the parking lot of the Prairie Village Pool, located in Harmon Park at 7711 Delmar Street.
Free replacement trees will be provided to participants who register at moinvasives.org/2022/03/10/callery-pear-buy-back-event-4-26-22/. On the website, participants can choose the event location where they pick up their tree, select a replacement tree species, and upload at least one photo of the Callery pear tree they cut down. Note that Kansas City, Mo., has a different pick-up date. The Harmon Park event will also include a native plant sale featuring four vendors.
Native to China, Callery pear trees (Pyrus calleryana) include 26 cultivars that present significant ecological concerns in Kansas and Missouri. Among the most popular cultivars offered commercially are Aristocrat, Autumn Blaze, Bradford, Capital, Cleveland, Chanticleer, Red-spire, and Whitehouse.
The limbs of Callery pears generally grow vertically, forming a pyramid or egg chape. Typically dense clusters of white flowers cover the trees in early April before the leaves form. In maturity, they reach heights of 30 to 40 feet. Property owners should cut trees during spring, when they are easy to identify, as a means to reduce populations from spreading in unwanted areas.
Individual cultivars generally do not produce fertile seeds on their own. However, insect pollination of flowers with other cultivars on nearby properties can produce fertile seeds, which are carries by birds, and sprout and establish themselves wherever they are dispersed. Each year, older trees in urban landscapes produce viable seeds that contribute to growing infestations of these trees. Breaking this cycle begins with choosing native/non-invasive alternatives for future plantings and controlling existing invasive populations.
“Many people have enjoyed Callery pear trees for years,” said MolP member and MDC Community Forester Ann Koenig. “However, besides the fact that these trees often break apart in storms, and that they have foul-smelling flowers, it turns out these species are spreading throughout field and forests, causing problems in more natural areas, along roadsides, commercial areas, on private properties, and other locations. We are excited to work with our partners to provide great native trees to those who are ready to replace them.”
Participants will receive potted replacement trees, donated by JCPRD and sourced through Forrest Keeling Nursery. The replacement trees will come in three-gallon containers and will stand between four and five feet tall.
To be eligible for one free replacement tree, participants must submit a photo of themselves next to their cut-down Callery pear.
For more information about this event, contact MoIP Coordinator Emily Render, [email protected], 573-569-8659.