My students are no strangers to my... rants about Pyrus calleryana 'Bradford,' or Bradford Pears.
Sadly, I was not a plant geek when my parents hired a landscape designer for their house in Virginia. Otherwise, I would have protested against the use of this tree.
Alas, 20 years later this tree has succumbed like so many others Bradfords before it.
Bradfords, as you may know, are notoriously weak-wooded. They grow very quickly and that, coupled with the acute branching habit, is a recipe for the damage you can see in these photos. You have probably seen Bradfords and noted their perfect lollipop shape. After it loses a limb like this, it doesn't recover. Instead it looks like a lemon missing a wedge and will never quite fill in. Due to their low cost, they are also so over-used that the pollen is causing more allergies each spring when they bloom.
Finally, the wood rots very quickly after this kind of damage and it will be a fast ride to oblivion for this specimen.
It's always fun to say 'I told you so,' right? I'm glad no damage was done to their house, otherwise I may have held back a bit. But please: don't plant Bradford Pears!