JOPLIN, Mo. — A common tree that we see blooming this time of year in the Four State area causes many issues.
The Callery pear tree is an invasive species originally from Asia. It was first brought to the United States in the 1920s and poses many threats in the area.
“And it was brought to the United States as a root stock to help our edible pears, from a blight issue. And so, they would graft our edible pear stock onto the Callery Pear root stock, originally. And that made our Callery Pears more survivable with the disease they were dealing with,” said Jon Skinner, Missouri Department of Conservation.
And while it was brought to the states with good intentions, it ended up causing more harm than good.
“The environmental harm is the loss of habitat for other plants and other, which then, in turn, turns into a loss of habitat for other life, types of insects, and birds, and mice, and snakes and all that stuff disappears because the habitat is shaded-out, it doesn’t exist anymore for them,” said Skinner.
Outside of the several environmental issues caused by the Callery pear tree, it also impacts the economy.
“We’re trying to maintain a habitat, the cost of maintaining that habitat. Uh, a road right of way, you can see road right of ways filled and MODOT has keep those clear, that’s an economic harm having to clear those out,” he added.
To help combat the problem, the Missouri Department of Conservation holds “buy-back” events. Local residents were able to submit photos of a Callery pear tree they had removed from their property, and in return could replace it with a non-invasive tree. The center had 50 trees available and saw 38 residents participating on Tuesday.
“I’ve heard and seen how they spread, and you can drive in the spring time and just see them flowering and where there’s one big one, then there’s 20 little ones,” said Marty Griffin, Neosho resident.
Skinner encourages those who have Callery pear trees on their property to cut them down, remove the stump, and replace it with any native tree species.