JOPLIN (AP) — The city of Joplin is discouraging homeowners from planting Bradford pear trees as the invasive variety begins to blossom downtown this spring.
The move comes two years after the Missouri Department of Conservation started asking homeowners and landscapers to stop planting the trees, which are resistant to diseases and pests, the Joplin Globe reported.
The Bradford pears, also known as Callery pear, gained popularity for decades because of their beautiful blooms, fast growth and affordable price, according to city and state officials. But the invasive trees spread quickly and at the expense of other native plants and animals, said community forester Jon Skinner of the state conservation agency.
“An invasive Callery pear can take over an environment, because you get so many,” Skinner said. “The dense canopy shades out native vegetation, and you’ll lose a habitat for wildlife below.”
City officials have expressed concern about cross-pollination from birds carrying Bradford pear seeds from the trees lining downtown and depositing them elsewhere, said Dan Johnson, the city’s assistant director of public works over engineering.
Paul Bloomberg, director of the Joplin Parks and Recreation Department, said the variety that was planted downtown in 2005 could cause damage in the future.
“They will start tearing up the sidewalks,” Bloomberg said. “In my opinion, they will have to be replaced.”
The Arkansas city of Fayetteville recently encouraged residents to chop down Bradford pear trees on their properties and offered native trees to replace them.
Joplin doesn’t have a replacement program. Missouri officials anticipate replacing the Joplin trees would require a significant investment.