Ornamental pear tree in distress

Asked August 14, 2014, 1:10 PM EDT

My ornamental pear tree has small branches that are dying also there are small holes in a straight line all through the bark of the tree. Can you help me with this problem?

Sussex County Delaware

1 Response


Thank you for contacting Delaware Cooperative Extension. You may receive a short survey after the answer to this question.

Callery pear trees, or Bradford pear, as they are often called in our area, are relatively weak trees. They suffer from a bacterial disease called fire blight that kills the shoot tips. Control consists of cutting back twigs well below the affected area. However, the holes you describe are probably from sapsucker damage. Sapsuckers are birds similar to woodpeckers that peck holes in the bark, looking for insects such as borer larvae. If your tree has sapsucker damage, it is a sign that the tree is in serious distress and decline.
It may be time to look for a replacement tree for that site. A native tree or one better adapted for this area might be a good option. You may find some good information at this web site from UD Cooperative Extension on Plant for a Livable Delaware:

My best,