I Just Hate Bradford Pears!

February 28, 2011 | By | Comments (54)

If there’s a pretty white tree in front of your house in spring, chances are it’s Bradford pear. And it looks something like this.

BP 002

What’s wrong with that, you say? Here are just a few of the imperfections Grumpy refuses to tolerate.


New Photos 061

1. Bradford pear has a very weak branching structure. So when a nice 30-foot tall tree encounters a wind gust of 40 MPH, it breaks up into little pieces and ends up as a pile of debris in the street. The reason is that all of its major limbs diverge from a single point on the trunk and the trunk can’t take the stress. Bradford carnage may not happen this year or next year, but it will happen. Hope it doesn’t fall on on your house, car, hot tub, chicken coop, still, grill, or classical cheese sculpture.

BP 001

2. You can’t grow grass under a Bradford pear.The dense branching produces dense shade, which lawn grass hates. The worst place to plant a Bradford pear in your yard is on a slope, because after the grass dies, the soil washes away, and you’re left with ugly gullies that seem to collect all of your empties.

Jim Gibbs 064

3. Bradford pear is quickly becoming an invasive exotic pest. Selected years ago by the U. S. National Arboretum as a thornless, highly ornamental version of the Chinese callery pear (Pyrus calleryana), Bradford was supposed to be seedless and sterile. That’s because its flowers can’t pollinate themselves. All was hunky-dory, until the Arboretum and others starting releasing releasing selections that didn’t bust up in storms or get as huge as Bradford does (up to 50 feet tall and 40 feet wide). Then all of these callery pears started carousing and cross-pollinating, forming fruit and viable seed. Today, I guarantee that if you take a close look at the surroundings of any shopping centers planted with Bradfords, you will see thorny callery pear seedlings coming up like gangbusters. I took the picture above in north Georgia, where Bradford pears have seeded in so thickly, it’s like a brier patch.

4. The flowers of Bradford pear smell a whole lot like the scene below. This is no problem for my cat, but most people don’t care for the smell of tuna on a trunk.


But Wait, It Gets Worse!

Are you ready for the ultimate? Some folks in my neighborhood have taken to murdering their Bradfords the same way they murder their crepe myrtles! Yep. They get chainsaws and loppers and cut back the branches to stumps in spring. What fools these gardeners be! At least a murdered crepe will still bloom this year. Not a murdered Bradford.

Last Week to Win These Loppers!

Loppers 002
Speaking of crepe murder, you have just one final week to email me a photo of the worst example of crepe murder in your neighborhood. Three lucky readers will win a set of high-quality Corona bypass loppers that you can use to cut down Bradford pears with impunity. But don’t touch the crepe myrtles!


  1. cimino

    Oaks with all the acorns and superfiscial roots are worse. This is in ny opinion.

    December 19, 2015 at 8:43 am
  2. 6 Trees You Should Never, Ever Plant | Southern Living Blog

    […] “I Just Hate Hate Bradford Pears!’ […]

    September 27, 2015 at 10:00 am
  3. Steve Bender


    I feel your pain. This is one reason I tell people NEVER plant Bradford pear. One thing you might try is spraying the foliage of the shoots according to label directions with Roundup. Repeat applications will be necessary.

    July 20, 2015 at 1:11 pm
  4. Suzy Krone

    I bought a home with some acreage with about a dense acre full of what I thought was an old crab able nursery. Turns out it was a dense infestation of Bradford pears. It only took about 5-7 years for this one section to become packed with 20 foot tall thorny stinky menaces. I’ve been trying to remove them myself by cutting them down and treating the stumps, but they just won’t die! They also seem to spread from their own root system, sending up shoots from their roots. And of course where ever the birds poop out the fruit and sapling springs up, and it’s hard to pull up because of the deep cork screw tap root. Basically, to clear out that spot is going to be expensive. It would be nice if their was an incentive program for eliminating invasive species on your land.

    July 16, 2015 at 10:43 pm

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