Missouri Invasive Plant Task Force (MoIP) - to identify and control invasive plants
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{Postponed Date TBA} Invasive Tree Buy-Back in Columbia

April 30 @ 12:00 pm - 6:00 pm

Note: Due to COVID-19 social distancing guidelines, our partners have decided to postpone the April 4 Callery pear buyback in St. Louis and the April 30 Callery pear buyback in Columbia.

  • We will continue to collect all photo submissions of cut-down Bradford/Callery pears emailed to [email protected]
  • However, we are unable to guarantee a free native Missouri tree in exchange for photos. We will keep your email address on a list and update you with information on Buy-backs as soon as we have some news.
  • Our task force will revisit the social distancing situation during our next quarterly meeting in July and will decide how to move forward with Buy-backs in the future.
  • We still encourage property owners to cut the trees during spring (when they are easy to identify) as a means to reducing populations from spreading and have offered some guidelines on this article, “What to Do with Your Callery Pears During Quarantine.”

Click to download PDF flier

To spread awareness about how the invasive Callery pear causes harm to economics and environment, MoIP will partner with the Missouri Department of Conservation and Forest ReLeaf for a Callery pear “Buy-back” offering on {Rescheduled Date TBA}.

People who supply photos of themselves with a cut-down 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 Missouri Department of Conservation Central Regional Office, located at the MDC Central Regional Office from 12 – 6 p.m., while supplies last.

Native, noninvasive trees with white flowers blooming in April include serviceberry, wild plum, and dogwoods. This web page from the City of Columbia offers photos of native trees for comparison.

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’.

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.)

Photo courtesy Missouri Department of Conservation

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 native to Missouri: Nuttall Oak, Persimmon, River Birch, Swamp White Oak, Sycamore, Bald Cypress, Eastern Ninebark and Kentucky Coffeetree. Trees are potted in in 3-gallon containers and stand between 4 and 5 feet tall.

Availability is on a first-come, first-served basis and may go fast; call ahead to 417-299-1794 to confirm availability on the day of the giveaway. To be eligible for a free tree, participants must either bring a photo of themselves next to their cut-down Callery pear or email the photo ahead of time to [email protected]

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: bring or email a photo of the downed tree or cut stump, preferably with you in it. Tree availability is 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: Can I have a voucher to pick up my tree?

A: If you email [email protected] ahead of time, we will log your photos, but we unfortunately are not equipped to keep track of orders ahead of time. Trees will be available on a first-come, first-served basis from 12 – 6 p.m. on April 30, 2020. We have many native trees available, but they may go fast; you may call ahead day-of to 417-299-1794 to confirm availability.

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 Columbia to make the trade worth it. Are any other cities doing a Buy-back?

As a task force, we are working to get invasive plants in more conversations. We 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 30
12:00 pm - 6:00 pm
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Tina Casagrand


Missouri Department of Conservation Central Regional Office
3500 East Gans Road
Columbia, MO 65201 United States
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