The Bradford pear tree in Columbia, SC

A close up of the white blossoms of the Bradford pear tree.

This tree is beautiful, but the smell doesn’t match. | Photo by David Ohmer from wikimedia.

We hate to be the pearer of bad news, but your favorite springtime tree in Columbia will soon be banned.

The early-blooming white flowers of the Bradford pear tree popping up around our lovely city isn’t necessarily something to celebrate. Those blooms are more of a warning sign than an indicator of spring.

Bradford pear trees, a cultivar of the Callery pear native to Asia, were introduced to the US in the early 20th century for their ornamental, symmetrical beauty. But don’t let their looks fool you — these trees are structurally weak + are quick to shed branches during heavy wind and rain.

Recognizable for their white flowers and strong, distinctive smell, these beautiful-but-pesky trees cross-pollinate with other pear trees, producing harmful offspring that threaten the lives of native trees and create food deserts for birds. The invasive trees have white flowers and inch-long thorns capable of puncturing tires.

As such, the Bradford pear tree will officially be banned in South Carolina in 2024. This year was chosen to give nursery owners time to transition + clear out their inventories.

But don’t dis-pearClemson University has plenty of guidance on how to remove + replace your Bradford pear trees.

We’re not here to burst your beautiful springtime buds, here are four native trees Clemson recommends planting instead.

  • Pagoda dogwood | This gorgeous multi-stemmed tree has showy white blossoms not dissimilar to the Bradford pear tree.
  • American basswood | A large native tree with fragrant yellow blossoms in late spring.
  • American beautyberry | Aptly named for its striking pink fruit + arching branches.
  • Ashe magnolia | A smaller, deciduous magnolia with white, saucer-shaped flowers.

Learn about 40 more trees recommended for Columbia here.

Bonus: Who needs the Bradford when we have the W. Gordon Belser Arboretum? This 10-acre botanical wonderland features a waterfall + a garden. The best part? The Arboretum is open for a Monthly Open House every 3rd Sunday from 1-4 p.m.

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