In front of my house and all around Michigan, there are these beautiful trees that I look forward to seeing bloom every year. The lovely white blossoms stand out and can be seen most of the spring. However, it comes with one unfortunate caveat: it smells absolutely atrocious.

 

Photo by Vijayalakshmi Nidugondi on Unsplash
Photo by Vijayalakshmi Nidugondi on Unsplash
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Bradford Pear

The Pyrus calleryanaknown commonly as the Bradford/Callery Pear, is a deciduous tree that is common with landscaping due to its pretty petals in the spring and its lush reds and oranges during the fall.  However, due to its ability to grow in multiple environments, the tree is now considered invasive. The trees grow quickly and since they can grow anywhere, they reproduce everywhere. The tree is banned in Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Ohio.

 

Photo by Riley Revell on Unsplash
Photo by Riley Revell on Unsplash
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Why Do They Smell So Bad?

If you've been around these trees while it is blooming, you'll know that they smell awful. Like, really really bad. My parents have always likened the scent to rotting fish, a woman's...ya know, or a man's...excitement. I think you get the idea. But why does this tree emit this scent when it could passively bloom like every other plant this spring?

 

The reason is actually pretty common, we're just not used to plants smelling bad as a result. While most flowers emit sweet scents to attract pollinators, these plants emit a bad smell instead of a sweet one. Pollinators are attracted to smells in general, good or bad. 

 

Photo by Riley Revell on Unsplash
Photo by Riley Revell on Unsplash
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This tree repeats the age-old story of something being so pretty yet so awful at the same time. You really do hate to see (and smell) it.

 

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