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By Cara Beth Lewis

Early Spring in North Carolina is decorated with deceivingly beautiful white blossoms, thanks to Bradford Pear trees. While the trees may be pretty to look at, they are harmful to surrounding ecosystems, structurally weak, and have an unpleasant odor. With a goal to remove and replace, the Bradford Pear Bounty program is set to launch soon.

According to a forestry expert at NC State University, the offspring of the tree is invasive and spreading throughout NC forests. For that reason, the Bradford Pear Bounty program has hopes to remove Bradford Pears and replace them with less problematic trees. On April 23rd, the initiative will begin with an event in Greensboro.

Treebountync.com says, “When you cut down your Bradford pear trees, we’ll give you up to five free native trees to replace them with! Just attend our event on April 23, 2022 in Greensboro, NC and pick up your native trees.”

Bradford Pear Bounty Eligibility

  • Pre-registration is required.
  • Any North Carolina resident is eligible.
  • Only the homeowner can register and receive replacement trees.
  • Tree removal is the homeowner’s responsibility. Find a certified arborist here.
  • A before and after photo must be brought to the event (i.e., a picture of the tree standing and a picture of the tree on the ground). If the tree was not flowering when cut, an additional photo with a close up of the leaves or bark is required.
  • Replacement trees are free, native, and offered on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • Up to five (5) trees can be exchanged at a one-to-one ratio for the removal of five (5) Bradford pears.

Are you unsure how to identify a Bradford Pear tree? Bradford Pear trees display gray, irregular bark, orbicular leaves with slight “teeth” on the perimeter, have snowy white blossoms in the Spring, and give off a strong stench.

You may also wonder, “Well if they are so terrible, then why are they so popular? Why do we even have them in the first place?” The following information may answer your questions.

“Bradford pear trees are not native to the United States. These trees are cultivars of the Callery pear, which was brought to the U.S. from China in the early 1900s in an attempt to hybridize them and improve disease resistance of pear trees. By 1950, the Bradford pear cultivar had been planted widely, and other cultivars have been produced since. It was believed that these trees would not be able to spread. However, different cultivars are able to cross, allowing them to escape into our natural forests. These trees spread quickly, allowing them to outcompete native species. Because they produce leaves earlier than other trees, Callery pear trees can shade out wildflowers,” according to treebountync.com.

If you just hate to give up your Bradford Pear trees because you love the beautiful and bountiful spring blossoms, you should be glad to know that there are several other native species of trees that closely resemble Bradford Pear’s beauty, without the negative attributes that come along with the invasive Bradford Pear.

Flowering Dogwood trees, Black Cherry trees, and Serviceberry trees all three have blossoms that significantly resemble those of a Bradford Pear.

Treebountync.com reiterated, “Cut down your Bradford pear trees and get up to five free native trees at our event!” The event will take place on April 23, 2022 from 9:00am until 12:00pm at the UNCG Park N’Ride lot on the corner of West Gate City Boulevard and Chapman Street in Greensboro, NC. The address is 1720 W Gate City Blvd, Greensboro, NC 27403.

NC Bradford Pear Bounty is a collaborative program between NC State Extension, NC Urban Forest Council, NC Forest Service, and NC Wildlife Federation. Read more: Tree Bounty NC.