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UK starts Bradford pear tree bounty program

The University of Kentucky’s Department of Forestry and Natural Resources is starting a Bradford pear bounty program.
Published: Mar. 8, 2022 at 4:27 PM EST
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - The University of Kentucky’s Department of Forestry and Natural Resources is starting a Bradford pear bounty program.

It’s an effort to help landowners replace their Bradford pear trees, which have become an invasive species in Kentucky.

While the trees have become widely popular and are known for their beautiful blooms in the springtime, they do come with many downsides. In groups, those blooms can stink, and they generally have a short lifespan, getting easily damaged in high winds and ice storms.

But the biggest drawback is that while it was once thought to be a sterile tree, it turns out that’s not true.

“What we’re finding are all of these callery pear seedlings, which is the species of the cultivar Bradford pear, that pop up in all of our natural areas, old field sites and sides of the road are just chock full of callery pear,” said Ellen Crocker, assistant professor in the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources.

While not all non-native species are invasive, the Bradford pear is and that’s why they’re trying cut back on its growth and plant more native trees that are actually more beneficial to the area.

“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,” Crocker said.

Through a partnership with other Franklin County organizations, they’re asking those who want to participate to cut down your Bradford pear trees and present photo proof to receive free new seedlings. While they will be smaller than what you had initially, in the end it’s a great help to the environment.

“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,” Crocker said.

The event is free and will be held at the Franklin County Extension Office from March 12 through March 14. For anyone wanting to participate and get a guaranteed spot, you can sign up ahead of time by clicking this link.

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