In your search to find the perfect tree for your property, you may come across the Bradford pear. You may also already have one or two of these trees on your property. It seems like the ideal ornamental tree: it grows quickly, has a nice, symmetrical shape, and is adorned with breathtaking white blossoms every spring. But like many things in nature, the Bradford pear’s beauty is deceiving. In addition to emitting a horrendous odor while blossoming, this tree can actually be quite dangerous—to itself, to your property, and even to the environment.
Bradford pear trees became popular in the United States during the 1960s, when government scientists adapted them from Chinese Callery pears to create a non-breeding (fruitless), ornamental tree. For several years, these trees began to line residential streets and commercial properties all over the country. As time passed, however, it was discovered that this tree with only a 20-year lifespan rarely survived even that long. Due to their rapid growth, Bradford pears’ branches don’t take enough time to strengthen at their joints, creating weak crotches that are almost guaranteed to break apart under the right conditions.
Most Bradford pears meet their end due to wind, rain, snow, or ice, and they are known for taking windows, roofs, and cars out with them. Google “Bradford pear tree” and alongside the images of beautiful foliage, you will also see many photos of fallen limbs or even trees split entirely in half. Remember this storm damage article? That was a Bradford pear. If that’s not enough to convince you not to plant a Bradford pear, their impact on the environment might be.
The Bradford pear was developed to not breed, and it doesn’t—at least, not with other Bradford pears. But once they were planted all over the place, they began to cross-breed with other species of pear trees, and the result was a new breed of viciously thorny trees that sprout up among native trees and choke the life out of them. They are nearly impossible to remove and may destroy acres of agricultural and forest land. Their dangers have caused Bradford pears to be completely banned from some cities, and where they aren’t banned, they aren’t sold by honest, reputable nurseries. Fortunately, there are many safer options for beautiful, flowering trees to plant on your property, and a certified arborist can help you find and plant the perfect one.
If you already have a Bradford pear on your property, you would be doing our native environment a favor by calling a tree removal service such as Southeastern Tree Removal to help take it down.