Have a Bradford pear tree on your property? UK wants to help replace it

The UK College of Agriculture is partnering with local groups to entice homeowners to replace the trees.
Published: Mar. 7, 2023 at 5:14 PM EST
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Drive around central Kentucky right now and it doesn’t take long to see trees on the ground or broken branches dangling in power lines.

For years, Lexington and other cities pushed to get rid of some of those trees.

One of those, the Bradford pear tree, was once touted as the perfect tree. Now, the white-flowering Bradford pear trees are considered a nuisance, and that was well before hurricane-force winds swept through Friday.

With their early-blooming white flowers and pungent smell, Bradford pear trees dot our landscape.

“While there is no one perfect tree out there, there are a lot of trees that we want to avoid,” said Ellen Crocker, UK Forest Health Extention.

The spring-time stinkers aren’t native to Kentucky and do more harm than good.

“Yes, they have pretty flowers right when they are blooming in the spring. But they are not long-lived trees. They fall apart fast,” said Crocker.

Over the last century, Lexington, like many American cities, embraced the trees from Asia.

Since then, they’ve cross-pollinated with other trees to spread out of control and grown into power lines with their delicate branches.

“There have been power outages, damages to houses, and, unfortunately, some deaths because of this,” said Crocker.

In 2010, Triangle Park in downtown Lexington got a makeover. All of its Bradford pear trees were chopped down and replaced with willow oaks.

Lexington and other cities now ban the trees and want the remaining ones replaced.

“Not only are they growing really densely so nothing else is going to be underneath them, they have big thorns, they are no fun to walk around in, they are not going to be long-lived valuable species for any measure in these natural areas,” said Crocker.

The UK College of Agriculture is partnering with local groups to entice homeowners to replace the trees. The Bradford Pear Bounty Program exchanges a Bradford pear tree for a free young native replacement tree.

The next one is on March 25 at the UK Franklin County Extension Office on Lakeview Court in Frankfort. For anyone wanting to participate and get a guaranteed spot, you can sign up ahead of time by clicking this link.