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Experts say Bradford pear trees are invasive, can damage East Tennessee's environment

The Bradford Pear tree blooms white petals that many people in the area might recognize as a sign of spring. However, they are actually an invasive species.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — For many people across East Tennessee, blooming white petals on some trees in people's front yards is a common sign of spring. They're called "Bradford pear" trees and can be found across the region.

However, an expert said they are an invasive species. They said the trees also have poor structures and tend to fall easily, which can cause issues with people's homes. They also said the trees usually need lots of pruning to stay alive and can crowd out other plants.

The limbs can start to fall off as the trees get old, causing damage to cars and houses. It was a popular tree in the late 1980s, according to experts. They were supposed to be sterile and not reproduce, but birds spread their seeds and helped them grow across East Tennessee.

They said that if gardeners are thinking about planting as the weather warms up, they should avoid planting the trees. Instead, they should plant sturdier, n native trees.

"You're doing our environment a favor if you got one that's still hanging on, to go ahead and get rid of it and replace it with a better tree that's going to be there long-term and has a lot more attributes for your landscapes and the environment," said David Vandergriff, a horticulturalist.

People can plant eastern redbud or flowering dogwood trees instead, which look similar to Bradford pear trees and are sturdier. Experts also said that if people decide to get rid of an existing Bradford pear tree, they need to grind down the root to prevent it from regrowing.

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