One Town’s Plan to End the Curse of Bradford Pear
Cut one down and get a good tree in return.
Beloved by landscapers because it's hard to kill, Bradford pear stinks – literally. Its white spring flowers, lovely though they are, smell like a Third World fish market. Its weak branching structure makes it extremely vulnerable to splitting in windstorms. Worst of all, millions of viciously thorny Bradford pear seedlings are conquering the Southern countryside. You see them in the woods and on roadsides everywhere.
One town has had enough. Fayetteville, Arkansas has come up with a novel plan to control and hopefully end the Bradford curse within its borders. Cut down a Bradford pear on your property (at your expense) and the city will provide you with a nice, non-stinky, non-invasive, native tree to replace it. Replacements include American plum (Prunus americana), flowering dogwood (Cornus florida), Eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis), serviceberry (Amelanchier arborea), and hawthorn (Crataegus sp.).
WATCH: Why Bradford Pears Are The Worst Tree
Grumpy thinks this is a fantastic idea, one that should be emulated not just across the South, but wherever Bradfords have been planted. In case you didn't know, ‘Bradford' was introduced by the U.S. National Arboretum as a seedless tree because it can't pollinate itself. But it does cross-pollinate with other selections of callery pear (Pyrus calleryana), such as ‘Cleveland Select,' ‘Aristocrat,' and ‘Capital.' Boom! You get a plague.
ALL forms of callery pear should be banned.
You needn't limit yourself to the replacement trees offered by Fayetteville, Arkansas. Other fine native replacements include Carolina silverbell (Halesia carolina), two-winged silverbell (Halesia diptera), fringe tree aka grancy graybeard (Chionanthus virginicus), Southern wild crabapple (Malus angustifolia), American snowbell (Styrax americanus), Mexican plum (Prunus mexicana), and Southern catalpa (Catalpa bignonioidies). You'll probably have an easier time finding these at independent garden centers than at big box stores.
Citizens of Grumpiana, let's make this happen. End the curse of Braford pear!