Bradford Pear problems

Asked June 6, 2014, 4:10 PM EDT

I live in Southern Illinois. My Bradford Pear tree is approximately 13 years old. I recently noticed the lower leaves are curling, with round dark spots on them and appear to be dying. Upon looking closer at the tree I saw small holes all in a row going around the trunk of the tree up about 12 10 15 feet. Can I save the tree? How?

Randolph County Illinois

1 Response

Thank you for your question to eXtension.
The holes in the trunk are nothing to worry about. Those are caused by a type of woodpecker called a sapsucker. These birds migrate through our area in the spring and fall. They'll peck a bunch of holes in the trunk (usually in a straight line), and then drink the sap that oozes out.
I've noticed a bit of fire blight in ornamental pears this spring. The twigs wilt, turn brown/black, and curl up like fish hooks. I recommend waiting until winter to prune those diseased branches out; if you prune them now, you run a high risk of spreading the bacteria to the rest of the tree. There's not really anything I'd recommend doing now for the tree, other than irrigating the lawn around the tree during dry spells.