Tree experts send warning about Bradford pear trees

Around the South

NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) – They may look like a nice start to spring, but state environmentalists call the Bradford pear tree an invasive species.

It’s only early March, but these trees already look like they’re in full bloom. Those who study trees and those who cut them down say the Bradford pear can hurt other plants and cause damage.

Leif Bennett, who owns Leif’s Tree Service in North Myrtle Beach, has cut down all kinds of trees for more than 30 years.

He says he’s asked to remove Bradford pear trees about once a week.

“They break up real bad when we have storms,” Bennett said. “They grow so fast and they’re hardwood. That’s why they break so bad.”

The South Carolina Forestry Commission is asking people to cut down Bradford pear trees.

Gary Forrester with the Clemson Cooperative Extension says the Bradford pear only lives about 20 years.

He also says the trunk and limbs are weak, breaking more easily than many other trees.

“They can split and fall on cars,” said Forrester. “They can split and fall on houses. I’ve seen some with some pretty hefty branches that have split and fallen.”

Bradford pears were sterile until they cross-pollinated with other trees. Now their seeds can be spread, with the help of birds, and Bradford pears can quickly reproduce.

Forrester also says the tree’s prickly fruit can hurt nearby plants.

“That particular plant is a real thorny plant and can produce really thick thickets, which can choke out native plant species,” he said.

Like the South Carolina Forestry Commission, Bennett says the best way to stop Bradford pears from spreading is by chopping them up.

“I recommend cutting them all down, grinding the stumps and be rid of them,” he said.

In addition to cutting them down, the South Carolina Forestry Commission also suggests using an herbicide on stumps, so the Bradford pear trees don’t sprout back to life.

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