Bradford Pears in the crosshairs: The downfalls of the once popular tree

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OKLAHOMA CITY - Although it can provide a gorgeous sight in the spring, many Oklahoma residents say the Bradford Pear trees are leaving them with a bad taste in their mouths.

The stench of the trees has made it hated across the region, and some cities in neighboring states are taking steps to get rid of the timber.

In fact, the City of Fayetteville has placed a bounty on Bradford Pear trees. The northwest Arkansas city is encouraging residents to cut down their Bradford Pear trees. In exchange, the city will give them a native tree to plant.

"Its probable heyday was the 70's, 80's; started running into problems in the 90's," said Brian Dougherty, a horticulturist.

Builders tended to use the fast growing trees as part of their landscapes, but now the Bradford Pear is considered an invasive species by some because they are spreading to places where they weren't initially planted.

"It can produce a lot of little seeds. We are seeing them out in watersheds, we are seeing it in some of the native areas," Dougherty said.

"Most people think about how beautiful they are, they have spring blooms and fall colors. I think about all the problems that Bradford Pears bring to property owners," said Aubrey McDermid, Planning Director for the City of Oklahoma City.

McDermid is a landscaping architect by trade, and knows the drawbacks of the species native to China.

"They are a species known for weak wood. They typically break in high winds," she said.

McDermid says there are even more problems when ice storms come through the state.

"Every season, Bradford Pear trees are splitting in half and the tree has to be completely removed. That's an expensive thing that the city has to go do," she added.

News 4 talked to members of the Central Oklahoma Home Builders Association. They say Bradfords were used in the 80's and 90's because they were popular and many home buyers asked for them in their lawns.

Oklahoma City officials say they likely won't be implementing a bounty program for the trees. However, McDermid says the city is always willing to work with citizens and businesses to plant native species trees in certain areas.

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