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Bounty put on Bradford pear trees

Fayetteville wants them axed, offers free less-invasive options by Stacy Ryburn | March 31, 2019 at 2:37 a.m.
A line of Bradford pear trees is seen in Gravette on March 28, 2015. Fayetteville urban foresters are encouraging city residents to chop down their invasive trees and replace them with native ones.

FAYETTEVILLE -- Wanted: Pyrus calleryana, also known as the Callery pear. Goes by the name "Bradford."

Reward: A replacement tree of your choice, but one from around here.

The city has put out a call to residents to cut down the notorious Bradford pear from their properties. Residents have to take photographs of the slain saplings and send them to the city's urban foresters. Then they will be eligible to receive free replacement trees.

John Scott, urban forester for the city, said the idea came from the Urban Forestry Advisory Board, a resident panel of the city. They want to get the word out about invasive plant species, he said.

It seems the tactic worked. The so-called bounty has gained widespread social media attention, Scott said.

"Of course we love trees. It's not a common thing for me, as an urban forester, to encourage people to remove trees," he said. "But these are problem species out-competing our native species."

The problem with Bradfords -- which are actually a variety of the Callery pear -- is they quickly take over an area and don't create a beneficial habitat for wildlife or vegetation, said Jennifer Ogle with the Fayetteville Natural Heritage Association.

Despite the name, the trees don't grow edible pears. They bear hard little fruits that some birds like. The fruits are junk food though, Ogle said.

The trees are very delicate and can't bear the weight of ice. A strong wind can take them down, she said. The white flowers look nice but smell like a word that's not appropriate to print, Ogle said.

"It just fills the air," she said.

Bradford pears became popular because they're small- to medium-sized trees that are easily trimmed, said Alex Royce, operations manager at White River Nursery on Huntsville Road in Fayetteville. They're also resistant to diseases and pests.

"But that's about it, man," he said.

Residents will have three opportunities to pick up replacement trees. About 100 trees will be available. Species include American plum, flowering dogwood, eastern redbud, hawthorn and serviceberry.

Metro on 03/31/2019

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