Mizzou Botanic Garden Cuts Down Pear Tree & Takes the Pledge to Stop the Spread of Invasive Plants

The Missouri Invasive Plant Task Force, a resource of the Grow Native! program, invites communities, campuses, businesses and other entities to follow Mizzou Botanic Garden’s example and take the pledge to control the spread invasive species on their property.

Jefferson City, MO (September 28, 2018)—This morning, the first of eight Callery pear trees on the Columbia campus of the University of Missouri was cut down—not by vandals, but by university officials. During the invasive plant awareness and educational event, officials not only removed the invasive, non-native tree, but also signed a pledge signaling the Mizzou Botanic Garden’s continued commitment to control other invasive plant species on campus. The remaining seven trees will be removed the week of Oct. 1, 2018.

            “These pear trees, located in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources (CAFNR) courtyard, were planted in 1998 as part of the landscaping for the new Anheuser-Busch Natural Resources Building for their profusion of spring blossoms and brilliant fall foliage,” said Pete Millier, Director of Mizzou Botanic Garden, a designation for the campus. “Now, however, we know better,” said Millier, “and the Mizzou Botanic Garden is committed to stopping the spread of this pretty but highly invasive tree and other non-native invasive plants that threaten native biodiversity and are problematic for farmers and other landowners. We are proud to have taken this step, and to be the first entity in the state to have signed the Missouri Invasive Plant Task Force pledge to stop the spread of invasive species.” For more than two years, Mizzou Botanic Garden has carried out other invasive plant projects, including the removal of five Callery pear trees at the Memorial Union, replacing them with non-invasive trees, and the organization of a mass bush honeysuckle/winter creeper removal along a portion of Flat Branch Creek.

“Mizzou Botanic Garden is to be commended for publicly demonstrating its dedicated effort to stopping the spread of invasive plants,” said Carol Davit, Executive Director of the Missouri Prairie Foundation, the nonprofit conservation organization and land trust that operates the Grow Native! program, and serves as Chair of the program’s Missouri Invasive Plant Task Force (MoIP), a multi-disciplinary, multi-agency group working as a united front to foster greater statewide early detection and control of invasive plants. “We invite other educational institutions, corporate campuses, municipalities, neighborhood associations, and other entities to take the pledge as well to signal their commitment to joining the fight to control invasive plants and mitigate the serious threats they pose.”

MoIP Task Force members developed the pledge with a number of benefits in mind. First, it lets the stakeholders of a campus, business, community, or other entity who may be concerned with invasive plants on that property know that the entity, by taking the pledge, has committed to developing a plan and dedicating resources to the control of invasive plant species. Second, it helps stakeholders understand that controlling invasive plants on that property will take time. Additionally, when a community or other entity lets its stakeholders know it has signed the pledge, it provides an opportunity for stakeholders to get involved in the effort.

“Invasive plants are serious threats to Missouri’s native ecosystems, as well as many native plants and animals, the built environment, and many facets of the state’s economy, including cattle production, the timber industry, and many aspects of outdoor recreation, including fishing and hunting industries,” said Davit. “Missouri will control invasive species only with the concerted efforts of many entities, including private citizens working together. Our state is a long-time, nationwide leader in natural resource conservation, and by leading in invasive plant control as well, we can further safeguard Missouri’s habitats, fish, wildlife, and other cherished aspects of our natural heritage.”

            Entities wishing to sign the pledge may do so via a Google form available at www.moinvasives.org. The Missouri Invasive Plant Task Force (MoIP) can also provide a pledge document suitable for signing ceremonies and framing. Many resources on the identification and control of invasive plants, including native alternatives to invasive plants, are available from MoIP as well.