It's not every day that the Missouri Department of Conservation asks Missourians to take out vegetation, but sometimes, like in the case of Callery pear trees, it's a good thing.

The Callery pear tree is an invasive tree in Missouri that is prominent along roadways and other open areas and has been identified as a species that the Missouri Department of Conservation would like to see eradicated.

The Callery pear, according to the Missouri Department of Conservation rose to fame in the 1960s as a popular ornamental landscape tree. MDC Forestry Field Programs Supervisor Russel Hinnah says the trees were cheap, grew quickly, and provided showy white blooms every spring.  “But the bad outweighs the good. Different varieties of the tree were planted close to each other, resulting in cross-pollination and spreading the tree nearly everywhere," said Hinnah on the MDC website.

Aside from their rather pungent smell, Callery pears can quickly invade open areas and crowd out native tree species. The Missouri Department of Conservation says the trees have a poor branch structure and often lose limbs or split apart in severe weather.

Hinnah suggests homeowners and landscapers plant tree species native to Missouri. One option he suggests is Serviceberry trees. They grow similar white blooms that made the Callery pears so popular, however, they have small red fruits that attract wildlife. Other options include hawthorn, eastern redbud, and Missouri's state tree, the flowering dogwood.

This April Missourians can cut down their Callery pear tree, and get a free, native tree in return. The Missouri Department of Conservation has partnered with the Missouri Invasive Plant Council, Forest ReLeaf of Missouri, and Forest Keeling Nursery to host this, for lack of a better word, Callery pear "buyback" program.

If you're interested in participating, register for the event at, then submit a photo of your cut-down Callery pear tree. Participants can then go to one of the locations participating in the buyback program and receive a new tree. Buyback locations include Columbia, Springfield, Joplin, Hannibal, Rolla, Kennett, Kirksville, and St. Joseph.

For more information on the buyback event, and the type of free tree you can get in exchange check out their website here.

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