There is a species of tree that is incredibly popular with Tennessee landscapers and homeowners for its quick growth rate and pretty flowers, but despite these somewhat attractive qualities, this tree is a nightmare for the state's biodiversity.

Callery Pear Flowers Smell Like Rotting Fish

Not only does this particular tree smell bad, with some even describing the blossoms as smelling of "rotting fish," but it is also highly invasive, making it a very real threat to the Tennessee ecosystem.

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Bradford Pear Trees: Offensively Smelly and Highly Invasive

What kind of tree smells like rotting fish and is terribly invasive? The Callery Pear. It goes by a number of more common names with perhaps the most well-known being Bradford Pear. Other common names for the Callery Pear include:

  • Cleveland Select Pear
  • Autumn Blaze Pear
  • Aristocrat Pear
  • Red Spire Pear
  • Chanticleer Pear, and more

They were first introduced in the United States in 1917 and became commercially available in the 1960s.

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Bradford Pear Trees Are Prone to Damage from Winds and Ice

Over the years I've heard horror stories about these trees, although I have only learned of the offensive fragrance in recent years. I had always heard that they are terrible for this part of the country, in part because we live in an area prone to severe weather, especially high winds, and Callery Pears are not known for being the most sturdy.

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Growing Too Fast Makes Callery Pear Trees Weak

While that mighty oak tree in your backyard has taken several decades to reach its towering size and strength to withstand Tennessee winds, the Callery Pear has become popular because it grows at such a quick rate. Unfortunately, that rapid growth rate means that these trees are structurally weak making them susceptible to being torn apart, or as someone once described it to me, "shredded," by high winds.

After they reach about 15 years old, the narrow branches of the Bradford become less able to withstand the stress of wind or ice. This poses a danger if they’re planted next to cars, houses or walkways. - Nashville Tree Conservation Corp
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Bradford Pear Trees Are Overused and Terrible for Tennessee's Biodiversity

Not only is the Callery Pear smelly and weak, but it is also considered to be an invasive species in the state of Tennessee. According to the Nashville Tree Conservation Corp., it is illegal to sell these trees in some areas. They say the trees also create issues for native animals and insects that rely on native tree species for survival.

Callery Pears Are Not The Same As The Pears You Would Eat

Callery Pears are not to be confused with the types of pears that you would find in the grocery store. While the pears you find in the store are suitable for human consumption, Callery Pear fruit is not, but it is edible by birds and wildlife, which is how the population of this invasive species has grown.

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Bradford Pear Trees Can Prevent Native Tennessee Trees From Growing

They also say that because the trees bloom and leaf earlier than native trees, they can actually choke out native trees by preventing them from receiving the sunshine they need to survive and thrive.

How Tennessee Residents Can Get Rid Of Bradford Pear Trees

It is advised that larger Callery Pears can be girdled - a method of remediation that involves cutting the bark around the perimeter of the tree. Saplings can be pulled straight from the ground. Other options for mature trees include cutting them down and treating the stump with a herbicide to inhibit the roots and prevent the tree from growing back.

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What to Tennessee Residents Should Plant Instead of Callery Pears

Before you decide to plant a new tree in your yard, you might want to consider some other options and just skip right past the Callery Pear altogether. Some good alternatives to the Callery Pear include:

  • Redbud
  • Plum
  • Magnolia
  • Flowering Dogwood
  • Red buckeye

Making informed choices on the trees you plant is incredibly important to maintaining a healthy ecosystem in Tennessee.

[Source: Nashville Tree Conservation Corp.]

LOOK: Here are the 25 best places to live in Tennessee

Stacker compiled a list of the best places to live in Tennessee using data from Niche. Niche ranks places to live based on a variety of factors including cost of living, schools, health care, recreation, and weather. Cities, suburbs, and towns were included. Listings and images are from

On the list, there's a robust mix of offerings from great schools and nightlife to high walkability and public parks. Some areas have enjoyed rapid growth thanks to new businesses moving to the area, while others offer glimpses into area history with well-preserved architecture and museums. Keep reading to see if your hometown made the list.

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