Missouri Invasive Plant Task Force (MoIP) - to identify and control invasive plants
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April 20, 2021: Invasive Tree Buy-Back in St. Louis

April 20 @ 3:00 pm - 7:00 pm

The Missouri Invasive Plant Task Force is housed under the Missouri Prairie Foundation’s Grow Native! program.

To spread awareness about how the invasive Callery pear causes harm to economics and environment, MoIP will partner with Forest ReLeaf and BiodiverseCity St. Louis for a Callery pear “Buy-back” offering on April 20, 2021, 3 p.m. – 7 p.m. To participate, reserve a time slot and select your replacement tree here. To complete your reservation, please upload 1-5 photos of the pear tree you cut down by following the link after checkout.

People who supply photos of themselves with a cut-down, in-bloom Callery pear tree in their yards will receive a free native tree to replace it.

The offer is limited to one native tree per photo proof of cut-down tree.

Participants are invited to pick up their trees at the Forest ReLeaf Comunitree Gardens Nursery, located in Creve Coeur Park (2194 Creve Coeur Mill Rd SOUTH, from Hwy 141/Maryland Heights Expressway).

Callery pear (Pyrus calleryana) is native to China. Several cultivars of the tree are offered commercially, including ‘Aristocrat’, ‘Autumn Blaze’, ‘Bradford’ (which is the commonly planted “Bradford pear”), ‘Capital’, ‘Cleveland,’ ‘Chanticleer’, ‘Redspire’, and ‘Whitehouse’.

This shows where the Bradford pear limb broke off from the trunk and apparently other limbs broke from the same area previously. South St. Louis, 2017.

Callery pear limbs generally grow vertically, forming a pyramid or egg shape. In early April, very dense clusters of white flowers cover the tree before leaves form. In maturity, they reach heights of 30 to 40 feet. Property owners are encouraged to cut the trees during spring (when they are easy to identify) as a means to reducing populations from spreading in unwanted areas.  (For details on how to treat cut stumps with herbicide, visit MoIP’s management page.)

These cultivars are generally themselves unable to produce fertile seeds when self-pollinated, or cross-pollinated with another tree of the same cultivar. However, if different cultivars of Callery pears are grown in proximity (for instance, neighboring homes or strip malls), thanks to insect pollination, they often produce fertile seeds—carried by birds—that can sprout and establish wherever they are dispersed. Each year, older trees in urban landscapes produce viable seeds that contribute to growing infestations. Breaking this cycle begins with choosing native alternatives for future plantings, and controlling existing invasive populations.

Participants in the “Buy-back” will have the opportunity to receive one of the following trees:

  • Nuttall Oak (Quercus texana)
  • River Birch (Betula nigra)
  • Swamp White Oak (Quercus bicolor)
  • Green Hawthorn (Crataegus viridis)
  • Bald cypress (Taxodium distichum)
  • Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis)
  • Carolina Buckthorn (Rhamnus caroliniana)
  • Downy serviceberry (Amelanchier arborea)
  • Cherrybark Oak (Quercus pagoda)
  • Pawpaw (Asimina triloba)
  • Tuliptree (Liriodendron tulipifera)

Trees are potted in 3-gallon containers and stand between 4 and 5 feet tall.

To limit person-to-person contact, participants must reserve a time slot to pick up their tree by April 19.  To be eligible for a free tree, participants must submit a photo of themselves next to their cut-down Callery pear to the submission form here.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: I cut down my callery pear in the last year–can I still get a native tree to replace it?

A: Rules still apply: reserve a time slot and submit a photo of the downed tree or cut stump, preferably with you in it. Reservations are on a first-come, first-served basis.

Q: I don’t have a chainsaw. Where can I get help having my Callery pear professionally removed?

A: Please refer to the Grow Native! Resource Guide listings for Arborists and Land Care & Landscape Services to find professionals in your area who can assist with tree removal. These companies are on board with the Grow Native! mission to protect and restore biodiversity.

Q:  I have 2 “Cleveland” Pear trees, would they be eligible?

A: Yes, absolutely, Cleveland Select is one of 26 cultivars of the Callery pear!

Q: I cannot transport a tree to Forest ReLeaf.

A: We’re not asking that people bring in a Callery pear tree itself – a simple photo of yourself with one cut on your property will do!

Q: I live too far from St. Louis to make the trade worth it. Are any other cities doing a Buy-back?

Yes, there will be a Buy-back on the same day in Columbia, Missouri. We also have many members and stakeholders tasked with sharing our information in their parts of the state.

Q: I wish Missouri’s county governments and the state would cut down their invasive pear trees on road sides and government land. They are contributing more than a homeowner with 1 tree. We all need to be part of the fight to support native trees.

A: Great point! We are working to get invasive plants in more conversations and out of more land–private and public alike.

As we explore ways to have an impact statewide, a common answer from government entities is that they need to hear from more citizens themselves who are concerned with issues such as invasive plants on public land. Any advocacy you and people in your circle can do will go far.

And there is a lot of good news! For instance, in 2018 Missouri State Parks released a comprehensive invasive species management plan for each of their parks. The Army Corps of Engineers is doing a lot of invasive plant work, as is Mark Twain National Forest. That’s only naming a few.

Q: I want to remove Callery pear from my property. What is the best way to ensure it does not grow back?

A: Please see Effective Control of Callery Pear – instructions by Dr. Reid Smeda, MU Extension, for the Missouri Invasive Plant Task Force


April 20
3:00 pm - 7:00 pm
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Forest ReLeaf Comunitree Garden
2194 Creve Coeur Mill Rd SOUTH, from Hwy 141/Maryland Heights Expressway
Creve Coeur,
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