State Bradford Pear Tree ban: What does this mean for you?

A look at how the ban could impact people in our area
Published: May. 10, 2022 at 6:19 PM EDT
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PENDLETON, SC (FOX Carolina) - We told you a few weeks ago that the state will ban the sales of Bradford Pear Trees in 2024.

Many of you have questions about what this means for the trees you already have in your yard.

David Coyle, with Clemson Extension, says the trees are everywhere. And there’s a bounty on them now.

“Just because a tree looks good in your yard, if it’s not native to this part of the world,” Coyle said, “It’s probably not a good idea to plant it. That’s how we got into this whole mess in the first place.”

Coyle explains why the trees are so invasive.

“These Callery pears are very, poor for wildlife. They’re poor for birds. They have large, thorns on them. It makes it very, difficult for land-owners to clear them off. A lot of land-owners have punctured tires,” said Coyle.

You can usually recognize these trees for their white flowers in early Spring or their red leaves in the fall. Around this time of year, they’re a deep green with red leaves on the tips of the branches.

Coyle says they cause a plethora of problems.

“Unfortunately, as they get older, they break very easily,” said Coyle, “So, this causes, not only, a lot of costs to a home-owner, or to a municipality who has always has to clean up broken branches after storms.”

Coyle continues, “It is not, technically sterile. If pollen from any other pilus species can pollinate that flower, make a viable seed, and then, you have large groves of Callery pear.”

The founder of the South Carolina Native Plant Society says there are alternatives, such as Fringe trees and Hawthorn trees. Both have a similar aesthetic but are better for the environment.

“Hawthorn trees, they have a great flower—white flower in the early Spring. The cultivar of these trees have a nice, compact shape to them,” Huffman said, “They have a lot of fruits that are highly prized by the birds.”

Huffman says a six to eight-foot tree like that will usually run you around $100.

“Any of your local nurseries should have those type trees and also your local growers such as your tree farms,” said Huffman.

Here’s where Huffman says to look for them:

  • King’s Sunset Nursery
  • Ray Bracken Nursery
  • Site One Landscape Supply
  • Lowe’s

He suggests purchasing a contained one.

On Facebook, most people in Anderson County tell us they are happy to chop the trees down simply due to their stench. When the white flowers bloom, some say it has a fishy smell. Coyle’s theory about why is because the trees attract species like flies while fruitier, pleasant-smelling trees attract bees.

Residents also complain about the trees causing allergies. Coyle says the trees are not known for that.

For those who do enjoy Bradford Pear Trees, don’t fret. You can keep them, if you want. The ban is to prevent new sales.

“The tree police will not come and cut anyone’s tree down,” Coyle said, “So, if you have a tree in your yard, it’s free to keep growing. We certainly encourage folks to cut them down and plant something native.”

Clemson Extension does not provide tree removal services, but you can reach out to your local municipalities to find a service near you if you can’t chop them down yourself or can’t afford to hire someone.

They’re offering a free, native tree for every Bradford Pear they cut down on their property--up to five trees.

If you cut a Bradford Pear Tree down, don’t forget to spray herbicide on the stump, as it can grow sprouts.

See the original post from the SC Forestry Commission and the SC Green Industry Association here.