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
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.Helpful 1
I live in Cedar Hill, Texas and the Bradford trees are blooming in red. Why? They have been doing that for 19 years and this is the time of year that they bloom.
I know of no Bradford pear trees that bloom in red. They all have white blossoms. There are a number of other trees in Texas that have red to pink blossoms or even red seed pods. Some of them include the Japanese apricot, red maple, southern crabapple, desert willow or even an Arapaho crape myrtle tree. I would suggest taking a blossom and leaf to a good nursery or agricultural center to get your tree identified. If there is a master gardener program in your area you might also check with them.
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.
Do Bradford pear trees grow in Maryland?
According to Wikipedia, the Bradford pear trees grow in 25 of our 50 states. Maryland was not specifically mentioned other than that tree becoming an invasive species in "eastern and mid-Western North America" states. The article also mentioned strands of them growing along roadsides, etc. in northeastern states.
© 2010 Peggy Woods