The Tree Centre has been in a tireless campaign against the awful Bradford pear is finally bearing fruit. This tree is now officially banned for planting throughout the Pittsburgh, PA metropolitan area. If Pittsburgh can do it, why can't we all?
Those of you who don't read The Grumpy Gardener every week (shame!) probably wonder why I despise such a beautiful tree. Here are four reasons.
1. Take a whiff when the trees are blooming. The flowers smell like fish -- all through the neighborhood. If you like this smell, I suggest you mount a fresh salmon over your fireplace after the Bradfords quit blooming.
2. Bradford pears grow into a lovely symmetrical, pyramidal to oval shape. They stay this way for approximately 7 minutes, whereupon a windstorm breaks them in two. This is because all of their main branches emerge from a small point on the trunk, making them very vulnerable to wind. Unbroken trees like those above are very rare.
3. Bradford pear gets way too big for the average residential yard -- up to 50 feet tall and nearly as wide. Nothing, including grass, will grow underneath. When you cut it down, suckers will sprout from the roots left behind until the end of time.
4. Bradford pear is actually a selection of callery pear (Pyrus calleryana) that will not pollinate itself to form fruit. Unfortunately, it will cross-pollinate with other callery pears, such as 'Cleveland Select' and 'Aristocrat.' Then it sets a boatload of tiny, inedible pears filled with seeds. Seedlings armed with vicious thorns germinate everywhere. Look at the woods and roadsides near shopping centers where pears are planted and you'll see hundreds of thorny pear seedlings.
Amurica, let's stand with the enlightened people of Pittsburgh to put an end to this plague of pears. Tell your city, county, and state leaders we want the future sale of all callery pears banned. What shall we plant in their place? Grumpy suggests these native trees with pretty spring flowers that don't stink:
1. Carolina silverbell (Halesia carolina)
2. Flowering dogwood (Cornus florida) -- anthracnose resistant kinds
3. Fringe tree aka grancy greybeard (Chionanthus virginicus)
4. Serviceberry (Amelanchier arborea)
5. Yellow wood (Cladrastis kentuckea)