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Celebrate National ‘Cut Down’ Your Neighbor’s Bradford Pear Week


Mark Rutledge

Saturday, March 10, 2018

The Bradford pear tree, I recently learned, has gained an especially bad reputation as an invasive and destructive species that should be eliminated. Spreading nearly as fast as cross-pollinating pears is a recent horticulture column by South Carolina landscape expert Durant Ashmore titled “The Curse of the Bradford Pear.”

Ashmore writes that the Bradford pear is “an environmental disaster happening right before your very eyes.” He calls it “worse than kudzu” and an “ill-conceived progeny” that will be cursing the American landscape “for decades or possibly centuries yet to come.”

Bradford pears apparently were cultivated from their close cousins in China. They are soft and prone to splitting in two during the mildest of thunderstorms. But the best reason for despising them, according to Ashmore, is that they have begun cross-pollinating with other flowering pears to produce “evil offspring” that are choking out native trees in fields and forests everywhere.

After reading about this, I started looking around during my travels up and down Interstate 26, and sure enough the ugly white-bloom boogers can be spotted sprouting up all over. The rogue pear trees seem especially numerous in areas with planted Bradfords nearby.

Ashmore has convinced me that the only good Bradford pear is a dead one. But we cannot simply go around with chainsaws chopping up other people’s trees. And it’s unlikely the government will fund a mass extermination and convince China to pay for it.

That’s why I’ve declared the second week of March as “National ‘Cut Down’ Your Neighbor’s Bradford Pear Week.” It’s a play on words designed to help educate unsuspecting Bradford pear enablers about the need to destroy them — for the good of all good trees.

Here’s how it works. Drive by your Bradford-harboring neighbor while he’s out working in the yard, roll down the window, and “cut down” his trees. It is entirely possible that he has no idea how ugly and dangerous they are, and it’s up to you to spread the word.

Start with some modified classic insults, such as these:

“You know, some trees cause happiness wherever they grow, and others whenever they go.”

“I planted a Bradford pear once. I got a fine for littering.”

If those do not send a pair of pruning shears in the direction of your head, advance to these:

“That tree of yours is depriving some village somewhere of an idiot.”

“Someone ought to tear that thing down and put up a tree.”

“That must be the tree that unattractive people fall out of, hitting every branch on the way down.”

If those draw a chuckle from your neighbor, he might be open to learning more about the damage his trees are causing to the environment. If not, drop this modified Internet gem:

“Your tree looks like it’s had its bark chewed off by a diseased beaver, put in a piñata, beaten with hockey sticks for six hours, and then the resulting slop piped back into your yard like the icing on the ugliest cake the world has ever seen.”

Then make like a tree and leave.

Contact Mark Rutledge at mrutledge@reflector.com or like him on Facebook at Mark Rutledge Columns.