When the Bradford pear tree was first introduced to the United States in the 1960s, it was heralded as a beautiful and easy-to-grow ornamental tree that was expected to make a wonderful addition to urban gardens.
Since then, however, the Bradford pear has revealed its true colors as a dangerous invasive species, choking out native plants in as many as 25 states, including Oregon.
Gardeners who have planted the Bradford pear in Oregon have come to fear it does more than just spread quickly and encroach on habitats needed for local trees: it also poses a hazard to nearby homes and vehicles. Homeowners in the Oregon area should learn to recognize this dangerous invasive species and have it removed whenever possible.
How To Recognize a Bradford Pear
The Bradford pear tree is the most well-known cultivar of the Callery pear tree and has several relatives that are equally prized as ornamental trees. These include the Autumn Blaze, Aristocrat, and New Bradford. All of them are highly tolerant of a variety of soil types as well as soil drainage and acidity and incredibly resistant to disease.
The Bradford pear tree can be identified by its distinctive pyramidal shape. They grow quite tall, reaching an average height of about 25 feet. Some outliers can grow as tall as 60 feet in height. The leaves of this tree are also quite distinctive, with an oval or heart shape and small teeth around the edges. They are typically a dull green in color, although, in the fall they transform to a red or purple.
The tree produces white flowers in the springtime and fruit that is around a quarter of an inch long and olive-brown in color. They bear no resemblance to the pears you purchase in the grocery store, although they are indeed related. In fact, the Bradford pear is actually a member of the rose family and is also related to apples, peaches, and apricots.
The fruit of the Bradford pear is not edible to humans, but birds and other animals absolutely love it. As a result, birds tend to spread the seeds of this tree everywhere, further contributing to its invasive nature.
If you don’t recognize the appearance of the tree, you will certainly recognize the smell, which has been compared to rotting tuna fish. The tree’s popularity as an ornamental has been highly impacted by this unpleasant scent and has served to discourage homeowners from planting it, for fear of offending their neighbors.
What’s So Bad About This Tree?
When it was originally introduced, the Bradford pear tree was expected to be sterile, as most cultivars are, meaning it would only spread when people wanted it to. However, it turned out that the tree can still reproduce with other cultivars of the Callery pear, which allowed it to spread unchecked across the United States, as well as approximately 150 other countries.
The Bradford pear Oregon homeowners have come to hate has had a devastating effect on local trees and other plant life. While normally, the ability to tolerate a variety of soil conditions and resist disease are coveted qualities in an ornamental plant, these same qualities have led to the Bradford pear outcompeting many local plants, including the equally flowery but far more aromatically pleasing dogwood tree and the popular Big Leaf maple.
The fact that the tree grows as fast as it does has also turned out to be extremely problematic. Trees that grow quickly tend to sacrifice the strength of their trunks and branches to do so, meaning that the Bradford pear tree can achieve large sizes with impressive speed but will fail to develop any meaningful resistance to heavy winds and other inclement weather. As a result, one storm can leave Bradford tree limbs and branches scattered everywhere and even knock the trees down into homes and onto vehicles. Not only that, but the thorns of the tree can then spread across the road, where they pose a threat to car tires and are even capable of damaging the heavy treads of a tractor.
What Can Be Done About It?
The Bradford pear grows quickly and should be removed just as quickly. In most cases, you’ll want to remove them as soon as they are detected, and you will certainly want to do so, as the trees become weakened or damaged due to weather and other factors. Like many other trees, the Bradford pear stores a lot of energy in its roots. As a result, shoots can spring from any part of the tree that remains, leading to this invasive tree returning soon after its removal.
The tree should be completely removed by a seasoned contractor, including the stump and roots. At the very least, an herbicide should be placed on the stump to prevent the tree from regrowing.
Wherever possible, replace the Bradford pear Oregon with a native tree that is much better suited to living in harmony with other plant life. These trees include the Oregon white oak or the dogwood, both of which produce attractive white flowers like the Bradford pear tree does but without damaging the local ecosystem. Ponderosa pines and Douglas fir trees are also excellent local trees, able to grow tall and provide shade without posing a threat to other plant life in the area.
To have a Bradford pear tree removed, including its trunk and roots, and to begin the process of replacing it with a native plant, contact the professional arborists at Mr. Tree. With years of experience in the business, Mr. Tree’s capable (and insured) contractors can help to protect the native plant life in your area while also removing dangerous invasive species such as the Bradford pear.