South Pittsburg trees making mark and officials working to make it stop

South Pittsburg trees making mark and officials working to make it stop

October 13th, 2012 by Ryan Lewis in Local Regional News

Ginkgo trees are planted along Cedar Avenue in South Pittsburg, Tenn. Fruit from the trees is annoying residents. Photo by Ryan Lewis

SOUTH PITTSBURG, Tenn. - When a street renovation project was completed in the 1990s on Cedar Avenue in downtown South Pittsburg, there was a small oversight.

The Chinese ginkgo trees that were planted along both sides of the street were not supposed to bear fruit, so there would be no problems for people on the sidewalks.

It didn't take long for city officials to discover that the trees did bear fruit - a lot of fruit.

"They were supposed to be all male trees, but they are not obviously," Mayor Mike Killian said.

After numerous complaints from area residents and store owners, the city now is in the third year of a program in which the trees are injected with a chemical that impedes their ability to produce the pungent, apricotlike fruit seeds, Killian said.

The injections are completed every February, he said, and it "apparently takes several years for this to work."

Jerry Childers, who lives in an apartment along the street, said the fruit is such a nuisance he'd like to see the trees cut down.

"Right now, if you walk through them, and you can't help but walk through them, they get on your feet and it ruins your carpet [when you return home]," he said.

Childers said he recently spent about $60 to have his carpet cleaned after he tracked the fruit seeds home.

Killian said cutting the trees down is not "the thing to do," Killian said, but "we're doing the best we can [to clear up the problem]."

Officials said the fruit dropping along the sidewalk has been a problem for downtown stores for years, and city workers are constantly cleaning it up.

Some of the trees quit bearing fruit after just two years of the chemical treatment, Killian said, but it could take up to five years for the treatment program to work.

In 2012, there are nine fewer trees bearing fruit than did so in 2011, officials said.

"We're being told that we will reach a day here soon where they won't bear fruit again," Killian said. "We feel like we're getting somewhere."