Missouri Department of Conservation Proposes Callery Pear Tree Buyback Program | News

The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) will partner with the Missouri Invasive Plant Council to repurchase the invasive Callery pear trees planted on April 26.

Jon Skinner, community forester for the MDC, said the event will take place from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. and attendees must register for the event. The first 100 people to register in the Springfield area will be able to choose a replacement tree.

In exchange for their pear trees, the Missouri Invasive Plant Council said participants will receive a potted native plant. Entrants can choose from black oak, green hawthorn, white swamp oak, dogwood, downy serviceberry, and Ohio buckeye plants for their replacements.

Skinner and Ronda Burnett, MDC community conservation planner and chair of the Grow Native! committee, said Callery pears are unfriendly to the environment in different ways.

“The Callery pear was first introduced to the United States as an ornamental species,” Skinner said. “With the introduction of the Callery pear, genetic selections called cultivars were made.”

The cultivars can interbreed with other plants, Skinner said. As a result, we end up with a non-native plant that can suppress native landscapes and biodiversity.

Not only are Callery pears and their cultivars hazardous to biodiversity, Burnett said the plant is problematic from the inside, when it comes to its structure.

“Here in the Midwest, we have windstorms and ice, and all of those natural events caused the branches of the tree to break off,” Burnett said. “What was initially considered a maintenance-free tree has become a maintenance nightmare.”

Skinner said the purpose of this partnership was to spread awareness about the plant and encourage people to remove the plant from their landscape.

As for plants on campus, Missouri State University arborist and gardener Dustin Wadley said the university tries to select native plants and species for the campus.

“It’s not always possible, due to several factors such as non-native insect pests that are now in our environment, diseases attacking our native trees and others,” Wadley said, “but we have many different native plant and tree species at our university.”

Wadley said university grounds services staff recognized Callery pears as an invasive species soon after the MDC began eradicating them more aggressively in 2019. Now the grounds services plan land is to remove all Callery pear trees from campus by the end of the calendar year.

Although MSU did not directly participate in any buyout program, Wadley said the university received grants to remove Callery pear trees along Grant Street.

MSU’s Springfield campus received $17,550 from the Tree Resource Improvement and Maintenance (TRIM) grant in 2019, and the West Plains campus received $10,000 the same year.

Wadley said there are many benefits to having native plant species on campus.

“Native plants and trees are generally well adapted to our local environmental conditions,” Wadley said. “They provide more benefits to our wildlife, like bird habitats and food, and they provide many benefits to our pollinators.”

For those wishing to sign up for the redemption link, visit moinvasives.org and look under News and Events.

Follow Makayla Malachowski on Twitter, @MMal2024.

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Ryan H. Bowman