While pretty, those flowering Bradford pear trees do more harm than good, experts say

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Take a drive around the metro this spring, and no doubt you've seen them.

Their beautiful white blossoms are bursting along boulevards and backyards everywhere. But behind the pretty petals, the Bradford pear tree is a particular nuisance.

"They've become an invasive tree that's a problem for us," said Bill Graham with the Missouri Department of Conservation.

He said the Bradford pear tree, also called the Callery pear, originated in China and became popular in the 50s and 60s as an ornamental tree because of its flowers and fast-growing nature.

"They were supposed to be hybrids that would not reproduce. But planted out a bunch of different ways and different types, they have managed to reproduce," Graham said.

That poses a problem to native plants and wildlife because the tree chokes out the native species that would grow in its place.

"Obviously, a beautiful flower," Brandon Shields said. "You can't get away from how awesome they look."

Shields, a certified arborist, said that Bradfords can be prone to breaking easily in high winds and can be costly to maintain for homeowners.

"It's almost like they should have a door hanger that comes with a new house that says, 'Oh by the way, this particular tree, you're going to have to throw some extra money at it long term,'" he said.

Graham said there are plenty of alternatives to the problem pear.

"When we look to the natives, we can find trees that provide full blush of color that says springtime," he said.

And the best thing to do with a Bradford pear tree is to replace it with a native species or, Graham said, "Don't plant them in the first place."

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