Information About Bradford Pear Trees (With Pictures)
Many Bradford Pear Trees which were first introduced commercially by the United States Department of Agriculture in 1963 are now grown in landscapes far and wide due to their attributes of being fast growing as well as decorative specimens. The pictures taken by me show what they look like in the Spring of the year in Houston, Texas.
The white blossom laden branches which envelop these Bradford Pears prior to any leaves being unfurled remind me of snow covered trees that are commonly seen in northern climates.
While we typically do not experience snow in Houston the white and showy blossoms return me in memory to the days of my youth when I spent the first 13 years of life in the countryside of Wisconsin. Snow was abundant in the winter up there!
Walking through our neighborhood last Spring I decided to take my camera and capture some photographs of the many ones that were utilized in home landscaping designs.
While these relatively small trees during the summer blend into the green surroundings as other flowering plants and shrubs are regaling us with their colorful vestments, the Bradford Pear Tree is hard to ignore as it is one of the first to blossom each Spring.
The deciduous branches come into flower profusely blanketed with dazzling white blossoms inviting passersby to gaze upon its beauty.
In the Fall of the year it can be counted upon to adorn those same home landscapes with striking hues of red, orange, yellow and other colors prior to shedding those vibrant tinged leaves and becoming dormant for the winter months.
Fast Growing Specimens
In the western region of Houston where we now live much of this land used to be dedicated to growing rice and there are still areas further out that are still cultivated for that purpose. Rice fields are generally flat areas of ground that can be irrigated and even flooded with water.
Needless-to-say this is not topography that would normally have a profusion of trees growing, and any that might have sprung up would have been removed if it interfered with harvesting the rice.
As subdivisions were developed and started swallowing up those rice fields, the new dwellings would all have been mostly devoid of any shade trees and while all different types were eventually planted, oftentimes fast growing ones were desired for more instant gratification in residential landscape design.
Here is where Bradford Pear Trees and other fast growing varieties came into play.
Not only could this type provide shade in a more rapid manner often attaining a height of 15 feet in about 5 years, it also had the ornamental effect already described.
Added to those attributes it is not an overly large specimen thereby being suited to smaller city lots. Growing to an average height of around 50 feet with perhaps around 25 to 30 foot spread, it became a tree of choice for many reasons.
Commonly found growing in zones from 5 to 9 and also disease resistant, this sounds like a perfect choice to plant. Doesn't it sound perfect? There are however a few downsides to growing them.
Most fast growing trees are generally not as long lived as other slower growing types. Bradford Pear trees can get to be between 25 to 30 years of age if well tended.
Pruning will not only keep them aesthetically looking better but will preserve them from their main enemy, that of wind or ice storms lopping off major branches.
The growth habit of the Bradford Pear tree left untended and allowed to grow naturally is the prime reason why people become disenchanted with this otherwise showy and ornamental beauty.
It grows with so many upright and compact branches in the center that it literally ends up with weak limbs and needs the help of human hands to do a little thinning out of these branches with careful pruning.
When large branches come crashing down disfiguring the tree and hopefully hurting nothing or no-one underneath that sudden event, people who did not know or otherwise ignored how these trees should be pruned have to decide what next to do. Keep the tree? Start pruning it hoping to save it, or should they bear the work and/or expense of removing it?
That happened to what was a beautiful specimen in the front yard next to what used to be my mother's house. One day when driving over there, I noticed several huge branches had fallen to the ground. We had endured quite a severe windstorm the night before and this was the sad result.
Those former neighbors ultimately had the tree removed as an entire side of it was left with a gaping hole. It might have eventually filled in but they were obviously not willing to work with it and take the time to see if it could once again take on a pleasing shape.
Properly pruning Bradford Pear Trees when they are small and each year looking at and addressing the pruning in an ongoing manner will help preserve these decorative specimens.
A native of China and Korea, the Callery Pear (Pyrus calleryana) is the progenitor of the most commonly cultivated Bradford Pear Tree.
There are other varieties that might offer some advantages and can be sought through local nurseries or mail order sites.
We see entire boulevards in some areas of Houston planted with Bradford Pear trees. They are kept nicely pruned and are beautiful to enjoy viewing during every season of the year.
Since our present yard and garden has no space to plant additional trees, my husband and I will simply enjoy these magnificent Bradford Pear trees wherever we get to see them. Soon we will be seeing the resplendent Fall colors and then after the short months of winter we will once again be dazzled by their snowy white branches bearing blossoms next Spring.
Close-up of Bradford Pear Tree blossoms
Now that you are better acquainted with not only some pictures of the Bradford Pear and know some of the pros and cons of using these fast growing decorative trees for landscape design, are you tempted to use them in your home or commercial garden space?
Dazzling Fall ColorsClick thumbnail to view full-size
Do you have or wish to plant a Bradford Pear tree in your garden?
Video explaining pros and cons...
Questions & Answers
What is the ministry value of a 30 ft Bradford pear?
If your question is referring to the monetary value of a tree, there is a good website that I found which calculates the value of a tree. It does not mention Bradford pear trees, but lists many other types of trees. It is the following: http:/www.treebenefits.com.
My Bradford tree is sending out saplings everywhere. In this way, it is very invasive. Is there any way to stop these saplings? Are they a sign that the tree is dying? Although it is healthy looking, I would not recommend planting one of these trees.
Other than digging out the saplings there is no way to prevent the Bradford Pear Tree from replicating itself. That is one of the problems with this tree along with its weak branches and relatively short life compared to other trees. It can be very invasive and can choke out native species in certain areas. You are correct with your recommendation about choosing different types of trees to plant.
My beloved Bradford is thirty-one-years-old. It is May, and there are lots of dead leaves about. Is it dying? How can I tell?
You are lucky that your Bradford Pear tree has lived to that age. Many die anywhere from fifteen to twenty-five years of age as they are not long-lived trees. They have weak roots as well as branches that often break in wind storms. If the leaves on your tree are dying, you may wish to take a sharp knife and cut into the branch leading to the leaves. If you are unable to see any sign of life there (some green below the bark), you might wish to cut back that lifeless branch. Of course, if the entire tree is dying there is not much that can be done at this point to revive it.
Can you cut the saplings at the base of the Bradford pear tree and replant them?
Taking cuttings from any type of pear tree is possible. Look up "pear tree propagation" to learn how to proceed. However, after reading all of the problems caused by Bradford pear trees, I would not suggest doing that. They are now considered an invasive species that are killing out other good trees. Cross-pollination with regular pear trees is also a problem. Given their relatively short life and weak wood that is prone to breaking in windy weather, please consider planting another type of tree.
© 2010 Peggy Woods