Sunday, April 11, 2010

Just say no to Bradford Pear trees

invasive bradford pear from 2 green acres
Right now, where I live, the Bradford Pears are blooming. And, I admit, they are beautiful. The trees have a nice, formal shape, and their white blossoms are enchanting. But please, I beg you, when you see the Bradford Pear at your local garden center, just walk on by.

Bradford Pears are the most common varietal of the pyrus calleryana a species of pear trees native to China. Unfortunately, these trees do not play nice. They are incredibly invasive, with their seeds being spread by birds. When the Bradford Pears are blooming, drive around town and look in vacant lots or areas with a lot of scrub plants. Chances are, you will see the pretty white blossoms of Bradford Pears.

invasive bradford pears in vacant lot - 2 Green Acres
In addition to being invasive, Bradford Pears are weak-limbed, short-lived trees. Strong winds and storms easily break major limbs off of these trees. Not all Callery Pears have this problem, but they all are invasive and should be avoided.

What to plant instead? The book Native Alternatives to Invasive Species recommends several trees. The one that seems to most closely resemble the Bradford Pear is the Allegheny Serviceberry (amelanchier laevis), a beautiful small tree with early white blooms. Other suggestions include Green Hawthorne (crataegus viridis).


  1. I couldn't agree more! Yes, this is a lovely-looking tree, but I've already almost lost the one in my front yard TWICE to broken branches. Plus it doesn't really smell that great ...

    Thanks for the tips on other trees to go with - when this one eventually comes down, I'll know what to replace it with. :)

  2. I am working on getting more native plants into my landscaping and I love the Serviceberry that I planted last year. It has been beautiful this spring.

  3. Heidi - glad to here that the Serviceberry is working out for you. They are lovely trees. I also really love the green hawthorne because it has beautiful fruit. Looking for a place for some in my garden!