The End of Every Bradford Pear

The Bradford Pear is a cultivar of the Callery Pear which was collected from China in the early 1900s.   They have been planted widely as yard and roadway trees in Denton County.  There are actually a number of different cultivars of the Callery Pear (Aristocrat, Cleveland) but the Bradford cultivar has been the most popular.  They are a fast growing tree with a nice rounded crown and they provide some nice color in spring with showy white flowers and fall with red foliage.   With all of these nice features, why not plant them?

1) They are invasive into the natural forest. 

2) The pretty white flowers smell horrible.

3) They are very susceptible to Cotton Root Rot and Armillaria root and butt rot.

4) And they fall apart in 15-20 years.

The last item is the main reason not to plant them.  They are a 15-20 year tree.  I have seen some that have reached 25  years, but that is a rarity.   Here is a picture of a poor Bradford Pear that its owner is allowing to live out its last lonely years:

This pear is probably around 20 years of age and has lost all but one remaining limb.  It is a shame to have 20 years into a tree and have this in front of your home.  After 20 years with an oak, or some other longer lived shade tree, the tree is well established and has many years ahead of it to provide shade and pleasure to the property owner and surrounding neighborhood.

While those of us in the tree care business make good money pruning and removing Bradford pears, I recommend that you not plant them. This recommendation goes for the other cultivars (Aristocrat, Cleveland). Plant something that will be around for 75-100 years, or more, and that your children, grand-children, and great-grand-children can enjoy

Scott Geer

Scott Geer

Scott Geer has a master's degree in forestry from Stephen F. Austin State University and is an ISA Board Certified Master Arborist.® He is also a graduate of the American Society of Consulting Arborists Academy.