Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A few good reasons not to plant Bradford Pears

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!


Nazardesign said...

Our neighbors have one of these in their front yard. The roots seem to be a problem as well. I didn't know this about them.

daryoush said...

That last photo looks kinda creepy... like a gaping maw from hell or something.

suzieseashell said...

You hate seagulls? That is too strong of an emotion for a poor defenseless creature. I do think they are nothing more than rats with wings!
Suzie SeaShell

. . . Lisa and Robb . . . said...

Yes! The grimacing gawp of the Bradford pear. I think their flowers smell vile. We had one outside a bedroom window in Baltimore, and loathed the smell of the flowers.