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UK to help landowners replace Bradford Pear trees 

Bradford Pear Tree
Ellen Crocker, UK Department of Forestry and Natural Resources.
Once a popular ornamental tree, Bradford pears are now considered invasive.

With fragile branches and stinky flowers, Bradford pear trees are popular ornamentals, but they’re quick to crowd out native species. As WUKY’s Arlo Barnette reports, a program at the University of Kentucky is helping homeowners replace them.

There’s a bounty out on the Bradford pear. If you hand over photo evidence that you cut them down, UK’s Department of Forestry and Natural Resources will pay the reward… an equal number of young, native trees to replace them with.

Assistant professor of forest health extension Ellen Crocker told WKYT the cultivar of callery pears introduced to the U.S. in the 60s was supposed to be sterile, but, turns out, it can cross-pollinate with other callery pears.

“What we’re finding are all of these callery pear seedlings . . . that pop up in all of our natural areas, old field sites and sides of the road are just chock full”
Ellen Crocker, assistant professor in UK's Department of Forestry and Natural Resources. Courtesy of WKYT.

In addition to being invasive, their branches are quick to break, contributing to a short lifespan. Crocker says by contrast, native trees support the ecosystem.

“Native species belong here. They interact well with our other native plants and wildlife, and aren’t going to invade our natural areas in that same way . . . these are going to be small seedlings or saplings, but we got some high-quality bear root seedlings from the Kentucky Division of Forestry. Those actually will grow really rapidly and long term be a better fit."
Ellen Crocker, assistant professor in UK's Department of Forestry and Natural Resources. Courtesy of WKYT.

UK is joining the Remove Invasives Partnership of Franklin County and other local organizations to host the Bradford Pear Bounty Program Tree Exchange this Saturday and coming Thursday, 9:30 a.m.-noon at the Franklin County Extension office. Tree experts will be on-hand to help landowners decide what works best on their property.