LEXINGTON COUNTY, S.C. — Bradford Pears might look pretty to the eye in the spring and fall, but as it turns out, they're an invasive species taking over South Carolina forests, and the newer trees have thorns.
"It really doesn't have a great wildlife value," Clemson Extension horticulture agent Jackie Jordan said. "It's not beneficial to our song birds, insects, other animals, so there's not a lot of food value there."
Clemson Extension is working with the Lexington Soil and Water Conservation District and the South Carolina Forestry Commission to help Midlands residents be rid of their Bradford Pear trees for good.
The exchange program offers locals a chance to trade out their tree by submitting a selfie of it chopped down, for up to five native trees, depending on how many Bradford Pears are chopped.
You do have to do the work yourself of getting your Bradford chopped down, but a free tree will be the reward.
Volunteers will help you with tips on how to care for the tree, where to plant it and what kind of tree to get in return.
"They'll ask you what your site conditions are so that they can help you pick the most appropriate tree for your site," Jordan said.
Midlands resident Marcia Conley is looking forward to the December exchange.
"Very importantly, it does help to try to show the nice, needed features of South Carolina, things that we can be proud of," Conley said.
Organizers expect 300 trees to choose from this year. It's first come, first serve and open to anyone in the Midlands.
According to Clemson Extension, the event is on December 10 from 8 - 11 a.m. at the Lexington County Public Works Complex. You need to pre-register here if you'd like to attend.