Invasive Tree Week – Bradford Pear

Oh Bradford Pear (Pyrus calleryana) – your name makes you sound delightful and even delicious but you are neither.

A fast-growing, flowering tree native to China, the Callery Pear, more commonly known as the Bradford Pear after the first introduced cultivar, was heavily promoted and planted in the 1960′s as suburban development took off. Developers and municipalities wanted to soften new development with landscaping, and the Bradford Pear was the answer. They showed up in front yards, office park landscaping and as street trees. And why not plant it? The Bradford Pear was not thorny like other pear trees, it did not self-pollinate and put on a flashy spring and fall show.

But here is the first problem – other Callery Pear varieties, those that do allow cross pollination were introduced and bam, Bradford Pears everywhere. You can blame the birds who go after the fruit and drop their seeds. Since the species grows so fast, it pushes out other native species. Rude.

The other problem with Bradford Pear trees is that they grow upright and have very tight branch crotch angles which make them very susceptible to breakage during wind and snow storms. Most do not stay in tact during their lifespan. Think about all the cars and houses located below these trees that have paid the price.

Lastly, the tree is relatively short lived. They last just about 20 – 30 years. In that short time span they can cause a significant amount of environmental harm and expensive damage to personal property.

Today’s lesson – Do not plant the Bradford Pear. Consider alternatives such as the delightful and non-invasive Serviceberry or one of these other great trees. And, also ask your local nursery to stop carrying the Bradford Pear if it is currently.

Please also note that since the Bradford Pear is considered an invasive tree species, it does NOT qualify for the $50 Tree Rebate.

Callery Pear 101:

  • Deciduous
  • Can grow up to 60′ tall but most commonly found between 20-30′ tall; 20-30′ wide
  • Alternate, simple, ovate leaves – approximately 3″ long
  • Light gray bark
  • Clusters of white flowers appear before leaves in April and May

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