Bradford pear trees all over Wichita


Bradford pear trees are blooming this spring in Wichita causing their smell to bother local residents.

"Right now in the spring time, when they bloom they're kind of smelly," said Catherine Heidel a Wichita resident.

Besides the smell, another local resident said she enjoys their looks. She said as long as their petals stay out of her yard, they are not bad to have around.

"I like them, I think they add a dimension to whatever city they're in," said Ginger Jones.

They can be seen all over the city. Jones said they are up and down the streets where she lives. According to a horticulture agent at the Kansas State Research Extension in Sedgwick County, these trees can handle the very harsh conditions of the Midwest which is why they are pervasive here.

"You have extreme cold in the winter, you have extreme drought in the summer and trees like pear trees are very good at handling all of those extremes, which is one of the reasons they were introduced into our area," said Matthew McKernan.

He said they also have spread to areas outside the city because of birds interactions with them.

"The berries they produce after they've cross pollinated are very attractive to birds, which help spread those even further beyond just the city areas where they're planted," McKernan said.

Since they are throughout the Midwest, another area they are in is Fayetteville, Arkansas. There, they have a bounty on those trees because they are considered an invasive species to their state, according to a press release from the city released March 21, 2019. In the press release they said they are offering to replace them with native trees that they will give to any residents that cut down the bradford pear trees.

There are alternatives to these trees in Wichita as well such as red buds or crab apples according to an employee of Johnson's Garden Center.

"Multi-stemmed, they're just great, they're hearty, they're all disease resistant so you don't have near the problems," said Steve Borst, who works in the tree nursery. "But the main thing is they bloom a little later which makes it an excellent tree."

Residents say the trees smell is annoying, but Catherine Heidel said it's not bad to deal with for a short period every year considering how beautiful they are.

"Just a tiny bit in the spring," she said.