Trade-in an invasive pear tree for a free native tree

BEDFORD – Right now, across Lawrence County Bradford pears, and the other invasive pear trees used in landscaping are blooming and looking pretty.

Bradford pear

“Pretty awful!” stressed (KIC), Lawrence County’s local grassroots effort to control invasive plants.

“Anyone who knows about how harmful these invasives are to our environment would not think they’re so lovely,” said Evie Phelps. “You’ll also see those white blooms showing up in our woodlands and in fields along the road- those are all progeny of those landscape trees and the seeds they produce.”

Phelps said the local KIC group wanted to do something to stem the tide of the harm done by these pear trees used in landscaping.

“So, we’ve set up a bounty system,” she announced. “If you didn’t know how harmful these trees were, and planted one on your property, we’re asking you to cut it down and in return, we’ll give you a replacement tree.”

While the replacement trees KIC is offering might not be as large as the tree you cut down, they’ll definitely be better for the planet. They won’t be invasive, be better for pollinators and if you give them some time, they’ll grow just as large.

KIC is offering a choice of replacement trees while supplies last. All they ask is that anyone in Lawrence County take a before and after picture of the pear tree on their property. A picture of the tree before it was cut, and then a second picture of the tree cut or of the same photo point with the stump. Submit that picture to before April 17 and let Phelps know how many you have cut down and then show her the photos on the day of pick up.

Officials also recommend you treat the stump after the tree is cut. Pear trees will sprout and without being treated with herbicide, you’ll continue to have a shrubby growth around the stump or the tree will regrow. Only a small amount of herbicide is required, either glyphosate or triclopyr can be used – follow label instructions and only the edges of the stump just inside the bark need to be treated. The treatment should be done immediately after cutting.

KIC has 62 native trees of four different species available to swap out for your bounty. The group will arrange for you to pick up your replacement trees after April 17.

Yellow wood is considered a rare tree, possibly among the rarest found in the eastern U.S. It grows naturally in moist, well drained soils on slopes and valleys near streams of water. yellowwood is recognized for its fragrant white flowers that droop in showy clusters (8-14 inches). Some would describe it as a “waterfall” of blossoms, giving the tree a unique green and white look. The flowers blossom profusely every other year. The foliage turns a bright gold yellow in the fall.

Though they know some people have long rows of pear trees on their property and hope that those people will cut all of their invasive pear trees down, the group needs to limit the number of native replacement trees provided to 3 trees/person.

The redbud tree is known as a Judas tree because according to some, Judas Iscariot used a relative of the redbud to hang himself. This tree is an attractive ornamental tree. Mauve-pink blossoms greet the spring, lasting for two to three weeks and adding color to any landscape.

The native trees include yellowwood, redbud, dogwood, and serviceberry. People have their choice of native trees while supplies last, though some trees do better in shade/sun or inset or dry sites than others. Facts about these native trees are provided on the KIC website.

The serviceberry tree blossoms emerge as early as March. In the autumn, its leaves lighten from dark green to cheery gold and shades of auburn and bronze. The tree’s globular green berries redden and then darken as they ripen; they are widely used for pies, jellies, sweetbreads, and jams.
The dogwood comes with green foliage or white or pink delicate flowers is a beautiful sight that returns year after year. Its vibrant leaves transform to a fierce scarlet hue in the fall for month-to-month.

Phelps noted that Bartlett Pear, Kieffer Pear, and other fruiting pear trees that people plant in their orchards, are not included in this effort. These are actual fruiting pears and are not invasive. Those trees are beneficial to plant. The trees KIC is concerned about are those used only for landscaping and produce only flowers and hard seeds – no actual pears.

For more information on the bounty program or other KIC projects, go to the KIC Facebook page to contact Phelps (lawrencecokic). KIC works to promote awareness, identification, control, and prevention of invasive plants.