MDC, partners offer “buy-back” program to replace invasive pear trees April 20

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COLUMBIA, Mo. — The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC), in partnership with the Missouri Invasive Plant Task Force (MoIP), the Missouri Community Forestry Council, and Forest ReLeaf of Missouri, will host a Callery pear “buy-back” program in Columbia on April 20, from 3–7 p.m.

Participants must register at, upload at least one photo of each Callery pear tree they cut down, select replacement tree species and a time-slot for pick-up of their replacement tree(s). Free replacement trees will be provided to registered participants at the MDC Central Regional Office, 3500 East Gans Rd. in Columbia.

Native to China, Callery pear trees (Pyrus calleryana) include 26 cultivars which present significant ecological concerns in Missouri. Some of the most common cultivars offered commercially include Aristocrat, Autumn Blaze, Bradford, Capital, Cleveland, Chanticleer, Red-spire, and Whitehouse.

Callery pear limbs generally grow vertically, forming a pyramid or egg shape. In early April, very dense clusters of white flowers cover the tree before leaves form. In maturity, they reach heights of 30–40-feet. Property owners should cut trees during spring, when they are easy to identify, as a means to reduce populations from spreading in unwanted areas.

Individual cultivars generally do not produce fertile seeds on their own. However, insect pollination with other cultivars on nearby properties can produce fertile seeds, carried by birds, that sprout and establish wherever they are dispersed. Each year, older trees in urban landscapes produce viable seeds that contribute to growing infestations. Breaking this cycle begins with choosing native alternatives for future plantings and controlling existing invasive populations.

“Callery pears have been a tree many people have enjoyed for years,” said MDC Community Forester Ann Koenig. “However, besides the fact that these trees often break apart in storms, and that they have foul-smelling flowers, it turns out these trees are spreading throughout fields and forests, causing problems in our more natural areas. We are excited to work with our partners to provide great, native trees to those who are ready to replace them.”

Participants will receive potted replacement trees, donated by Forest ReLeaf and Forrest Keeling Nursery, in 3-gallon containers that stand between 4- and 5-feet tall.

To limit person-to-person contact, participants must register before April 19 and reserve a timeslot for the pick-up event on April 20. To be eligible for a free replacement tree, participants must submit a photo of themselves next to their cut-down Callery pear at

For more information about this event, including a full list of replacement-tree species offered, visit, or contact MoIP Contract Coordinator Tina Casagrand at, or (417) 299-1794.