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"Bad-ford" Pears: My man, Neil Sperry, sharpens his Axe.

In his most recent Newsletter, Neil Sperry, the gardening guru of Texas, posted an article concerning the evil nature of a well-loved tree.

The renowned Bradford Pear (Pyrus calleryana 'Bradford') was introduced to the American landscape market from Asia in the 1960's because of it's beautiful and profuse white blossoms. The popularity of this early bloomer made it a lucrative tree for nurseries to propagate & it's genetics made for extremely fast & easy propagation. Millions of these trees were planted in yards, parks, and commercial landscapes in every state of our country.

However, the downside to importing a foreign cultivar is the unknown effect it will have on the stable native ecosystem. It took several decades, but eventually this cultivar made a name for itself as a real nuisance. Originally thought to be sterile and unable to reproduce through fruit & seeds, the Pyrus calleryana apparently CAN produce viable seeds if those blooms are pollenated by another pear variety. Our insect pollinators should not be blamed as they have no care as to where their pollen comes from. Their industrious nature brought two pears together and the offspring is a rampantly reproductive hybrid pear that is covering pastures and woodlands everywhere with trees having some very undesirable traits.

The wood of a pear tree is not very strong. While young, the trees do not represent much of a hazard to people or structures. However, Bradford Pears grow very quickly to their mature height and width of about 25' and they are often planted close to structures. The weak wood of these trees is prone to breaking where the main limbs attach to the trunk. It does not take much wind or ice to over-strain that connection and half of the tree's canopy will often just collapse. That exact scenario happened to my wife and I when we bought our first house in Longview. Our pear trees were easily 25 years old and planted about 15' from the back porch. One forgettable rainstorm gust and half the tree hit our house.

Many folks reading this probably have one or more Bradford Pear trees in your landscape. If you do, you should consider it's age and come to terms with the fact that very few of these trees reach 30 years old without mishap. I would recommend that you follow Neil Sperry's advice and arrange to remove or replace those trees before they have a chance to disappoint you further.

If you would like to read Neil's original article and sign up for his valuable Newsletter you can do so by following the link below.

~ Peace.

Photo By Bruce Marlin - Own work, CC BY 3.0,

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