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Chop down your Bradford pear, get a free non-invasive tree to replace it

According to the Missouri Department of Conservation, Callery pears invade and degrade a variety of the state's natural habitats.
Credit: cpcthatsme - stock.adobe.com
File photo of a Bradford pear tree in bloom.

ST. LOUIS — Spring has officially returned to the Show Me State. Flowering plants are beginning to bloom, and that all-too-familiar rotting fish smell is starting to fill the air — the scent of Callery pear trees.

Callery pear trees and their Bradford pear variety are an invasive species, according to the Missouri Department of Conservation. The troublesome trees that bear white blossoms can crowd and shade out native plants, thus reducing the diversity of the area's plants and animals.

The species became popular in landscaping for its quick growth, tolerance in many soil types, shape and pretty fall color, but the trees cause far more harm to the environment than their benefits.

RELATED: Callery pear trees could be banned in several states

According to the Missouri Department of Conservation, few North American insects chew the leaves of the Callery plant, leaving it with little role in a healthy ecosystem. When they bloom in the spring, Callery pears give off a revolting scent that many compare to a dirty dumpster. Their stout thorns make the difficult to clear, and their flowers attract flies.

In partnership with Forest ReLeaf of Missouri, Forrest Keeling Nursery and the state department of conservation, the Missouri Invasive Plant Council is inviting St. Louis-area homeowners to cut down one or more Callery pear trees and receive one free, non-invasive tree to replace it.

To earn your free tree, simply snap a photo of your cut-down Callery and submit it here through April 13. There, you will also choose which replacement tree you will receive. Options include swamp white oak, shumard oak, wild plum, redbud and serviceberry trees.

Replacement trees are limited to one per eligible household and can be picked up 3-6 p.m. Tuesday, April 18 at the CommuniTree Gardens Nursery, located at 2194 Creve Coeur Mill Road.

Several other Missouri cities are participating in the Callery pear buy-back event, including Columbia, Joplin, Springfield, Lebanon, Cape Girardeau, Poplar Bluff, Hannibal and Kansas City.

For information about how to effectively remove one of the trees from your property, click here.

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