MDC and partners offering callery pear buyback program in St. Joseph

News from the region
Published Date

St. Joseph, Mo. – Most of the trees blooming white along roadsides in early spring are nonnative and invasive Callery pear varieties that do little to benefit wildlife such as songbirds. To reduce their presence, the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) is partnering with the Missouri Invasive Plant Council, Forest ReLeaf of Missouri, and Forrest Keeling Nursery to host a Callery pear “buyback” program on April 23. The St. Joseph area is included in the buyback for the first time this year thanks to efforts by MDC’s Northwest Regional Office.

People with Callery pear trees on their property can cut down their tree and receive a free, native tree in return. Participants must register in advance and during registration upload a photo of the Callery pear they have cut down. The free native trees provided in return will be available for pickup in St. Joseph from 3 to 6 p.m. on Tuesday, April 23, at the Remington Nature Center parking lot, 1502 McArthur Drive. To register, visit

Callery pear varieties have been planted in landscaping over the years because of the white blooms in spring. But the trees have a notoriously stinky smell and poor limb structure to withstand storms. They have hybridized and escaped cultivation and are crowding out native plants in fields, right of ways, and yard borders. Also, since they are nonnative, insects are not evolved to consume their leaves. Thus, the trees host few of the insects that are invaluable to songbirds feeding their young during the nesting season, and for birds building fat reserves for winter.

Missouri has several native trees that also provide colorful spring blooms and are far more healthy for the environment. Flowering dogwood and serviceberry are two examples, but there are others. For more information about problems caused by Callery pear trees, visit To learn more about native plants and trees in Missouri, visit