Bradford pears

Asked April 9, 2018, 11:11 AM EDT

please explain the “curse” of the Bradford pears. Isn’t that the origin species of the white blooming trees everyone thinks are wonderful every Spring? We should stop planting anymore.

Anne Arundel County Maryland

1 Response

Developed as a sterile hybrid, the Bradford’s collapsing branch structure led to the introduction of more hybrids. Cross-pollination resulted in fertile offspring with berry-sized fertile fruit. It spreads rapidly to disturbed and natural areas, displacing natives and disrupting natural succession. Seedlings may grow long thorns. Flowers often have an offensive odor.

"Bradford" is a variety of Callery pear, an Asian species. Obviously, the whole idea of "sterile" varieties can be disastrous. Callery pears have now taken over hundreds of thousands of acres of natural native plants--both wild and parkland--and are still spreading fast. They are a foreign species which should now be considered a trash tree or weed tree.

We're glad you asked and hope you pass along this information. Getting out the word is hard but important. This tree should not be planted and any seedlings should be eradicated.