Bradford Pear Tree

All About the Bradford Pear Tree

The Bradford Pear Tree is an ornamental tree that is very popular. It is commonly planted in South Carolina and other southern states, but can be found in cities and towns throughout its temperature range. Although it is native to China, many cultivars, or hybrids, are grown throughout the United States.

The Bradford Pear Tree grows up to fifty feet tall and thirty feet wide. It flowers in the spring for two weeks. While the tree grows fifteen feet in a ten-year period, it does not have a particularly long lifespan, living only around twenty-five years. The flowers are said to have an unpleasant smell. A small brown fruit is produced that is eaten by birds. The leaves change color in the fall, becoming more of an reddish-orange.

One of the biggest drawbacks of the Bradford Pear Tree is that it is short-lived. It is extremely popular in cites because it has a very high tolerance to pollution. It also grows in both sun and shady conditions, and is equally adaptable to both too much rain and to drought. It is this hardiness and disease-resistance that are its most desirable qualities.

A Bradford PearTree is resistant to many diseases and pests, but is also susceptible to others. One of these is fire blight. A tree with this disease will start to display blackened leaves and twigs that eventually travel down the entire branch. Another disease that affects this tree is Entomosporium leaf spot. This leaf spot is common among cultivars of callery pears, such as the Bradford and the Chanticleer. Reddish-purple spots start to take over the leaves and eventually cause them to die and drop to the ground. This problem can be controlled by chemicals.

While relatively few insects damage this pear tree, it is susceptible to weather damage. It is often affected by cases of severe branch-splitting. This happens when trees split in half during ice and other type storms. In South Carolina, the tree is on the Invasive Plant Pest Species List. That’s because the tree is no longer either sterile or without thorns as it was originally meant to be. Consequently birds scatter the seeds and areas become covered with large thorny wild pear tree thickets.

One of the cultivars of the Bradford Pear Tree is the Aristocrat, which overall has stronger branches, but is more apt to contract fire blight. The Aristocrat is not quite as tall as the Bradford at 35-40 feet high. Others are the Chanticleer, also known as Cleveland Select, which grows to a height of 35 feet and is resistant to various forms of blight, and the Redspire, which is shaped more like a pyramid. In the fall, it turns yellow instead of red.

The Bradford Pear Tree is no long as popular as it used to be as an urban tree. While some people still like its rapid growth, color and flowers, its problems and lifespan are becoming headaches to many who originally planted the tree. As more and more Bradford Pear Trees reach old age, they will be replaced with other kinds of trees.