I Just Hate Bradford Pears!

February 28, 2011 | By | Comments (74)

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. Steve Bender

    Pyrus kawakami is a different species than ‘Bradford’ and doesn’t have the same problems. Other flowering trees I’d recommend for you are ‘Okame’ cherry, Yoshino cherry, saucer magnolia, and ‘Oklahoma’ redbud.

    May 20, 2017 at 8:21 am
  2. Homes

    We’re landscaping our front yard (north Houston) and I really want a flowering tree. I miss all the cherry trees from when we lived in northern Virginia, but I understand they don’t do well here. Our landscaper recommended either a Mexican plum or an Evergreen Flowering Pear (Pyrus kawakamii). I’m very leery of the the pear – because I too hate Bradford pears with a passion – but he assured us that it doesn’t have the same problems as the Bradford. Do you have any experience with the Pyrus kawakamii? Or suggestions for other trees to scratch the cherry tree itch? I really don’t want to end up with anything we’ll be kicking ourselves ten years down the road for planting!

    May 19, 2017 at 9:51 am
  3. Steve Bender

    You’ll probably die by it too (although that would be tragic — for you, Paul, not the tree).

    May 13, 2017 at 3:15 pm
  4. Paul Padron

    I have so many bradford pear trees, my favorite tree, never have had any problems, even had a tornado hit one of our houses, and they are still standing proud, so I live by the tree

    May 6, 2017 at 1:46 pm
  5. Steve Bender

    Yep, that’s your choice. Cut them down now or wait for a storm to do it for you. If it were me, I’d replace them now. Who wants to look at ugly trees?

    March 2, 2017 at 10:42 am
  6. Cindy Williams

    I have two 26 year old Bradford pear trees in my front yard. They are so ugly. I am just waiting for a storm to take them out. After a few years of being shaped quite lovely, they are now grown in all directions with no symmetry to their branches at all!! They either need to fall down or I need to have them removed.

    March 1, 2017 at 1:36 am
  7. Charlotte Phillips

    My Bradford Pear is over 70 feet tall. I live in a condo association and my neighbor has commented it may fall on someone or a vehicle. The tree is almost as wide as it is tall. Today neighbor called me and said spiders are dropping out of it. I have never seen one spider but I park in garage. Guess I will have to take it down but I don’t want to.

    May 5, 2016 at 10:46 pm
  8. Grumpy Gardener


    This must be a miracle. The fruit of a Bradford pear is the size of a marble. Perhaps you are thinking of ‘Bartlett’ pear.

    May 2, 2016 at 3:26 pm
  9. Carol Smith

    I just water bath canned Bradford pears. They are so Delicious. We are giving away all of our canned pears. !!

    May 1, 2016 at 3:58 pm
  10. Removing the Yews | Jejune.net

    […] the pokeweed which the previous owner let run rampant for years and years.  Oh, and removing the Bradford pears planted directly beneath a conjunction of low-hanging power lines in our backyard.  Enthusiasm has […]

    April 26, 2016 at 1:59 pm
  11. Grumpy Gardener


    Either your tree is not getting enough sun or you’re pruning it at the wrong time. The best time to prune is late spring and early summer.

    April 25, 2016 at 2:51 pm
  12. Peter Strods

    My Bradford does not flower. WHY ?

    April 20, 2016 at 12:08 pm
  13. Sandra Petty

    I personally love the smell of Bradford pears! I grew up near a regular pear tree which we climbed as kids and the Bradford pear has the same fragrance to me.

    March 28, 2016 at 12:38 pm
  14. Gabriel Popkin » Some perspective on an unloved tree

    […] caused by plants. And yet, it’s the introduced plants that get people all worked up. See here and here and here for examples of fury toward the Bradford pear. Just try to find anything approaching this […]

    March 25, 2016 at 10:06 am
  15. Rich Steiner

    My pretty white tree is a cherry tree. It smells like flowers, not fish. 🙂

    March 23, 2016 at 3:25 pm
  16. Peg Mohar

    The worst thing about Bradford (Callery) pears is that they are food deserts for birds. They were not part of the original ecosystem in our country so the native insects shun them. As part of the web of life, they are losers. Pity the poor bluebird who builds his nest nearby–no caterpillars to feed his flock!

    March 16, 2016 at 6:38 pm
  17. Grumpy Gardener

    Unfortunately, when this tree cross-pollinates with other flowering pears out there, it produces lots of fruit and seeds and the thorny, stinking seedlings come up everywhere. Look at any roadside or woods near a shopping mall with Bradford pears and you’ll see these loathsome seedlings everywhere.

    March 16, 2016 at 4:19 pm
  18. Stephanie

    Does not produce seed or fruit** not flower.

    March 14, 2016 at 3:04 pm
  19. Stephanie

    E. Mizelle, God did not create this tree, it was bred by humans to get the characteristics they wanted (an ornamental, flowering tree, that does not produce seed or flower). Also, trees don’t flower for our enjoyment. They flower to reproduce.

    March 14, 2016 at 3:00 pm
  20. E. Mizelle

    stop bitching about the beautiful Bradford Pear trees. Stop an enjoy the beauty of the flowers. Just don’t get close enough to it where you can smell it. God created that tree just like he create the beloved Christmas trees which also can make a mess of themselves…but i admit they do smell nicer than fish! There is a reason we have Spring.,, all the flowers and llowering trees showing their stuff for our enjoyment. Go smell your roses instead of your Bradford Pears,

    March 14, 2016 at 12:17 pm
  21. cimino

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

    December 19, 2015 at 8:43 am
  22. 6 Trees You Should Never, Ever Plant | Southern Living Blog

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

    September 27, 2015 at 10:00 am
  23. 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
  24. 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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