Photo by Melody

Article: Lessons of the Bradford Pear: Bradfords and Ice

Communities > Forums > Article: Lessons of the Bradford Pear
Forum: Article: Lessons of the Bradford PearReplies: 17, Views: 163
Add to Bookmarks


Benton, KY
(Zone 7a)

March 5, 2009
3:07 PM

Post #6224535

The recent ice storm that hit west KY and surrounding states pretty much finished off the Bradford Pears. None remained unscathed.

This one belonged to my next door neighbor.

Thumbnail by melody
Click the image for an enlarged view.


Putnam County, IN
(Zone 5b)

March 7, 2009
5:52 PM

Post #6234004

Where we live before there was big beautiful Bradford Pear in our nieghbors yard. This was one of these subdivisions where there is like 12 feet between houses. That darn thing split 3 ways in an ice storm and just missed falling on the roof of our porch.


Madison, IL
(Zone 6b)

October 1, 2009
11:44 AM

Post #7122812

I cheered when a microburst took out my neighbor's bradford pear and was elated to later see the other one fall after a funnel cloud had been reported in the area. Usually, this type of weather would have upset me. Since the only damage was to these two trees, I believe that my prayer was answered. Now my veggie garden has regained the full morning sunlight after my neighbor unknowingly planted trees that would later rob the south end of my veggie garden from the morning sunlight. I believe that when the dense foliage was wet these trees became top heavy and the soft wood split right down the middle. My nearby peartree suffered absolutely no damage in these storms. However, I saw many other bradford pears in my neighborhood in the same condition. Most of these trees were replaced with other species. Thankfully, my neighbor decided to plant another species and on the north end of his property. Perhaps, he heard me cheering "Let the sun shine!"

This message was edited Oct 1, 2009 6:46 AM

This message was edited Oct 1, 2009 6:47 AM
Valparaiso, FL
(Zone 8b)

October 3, 2009
12:40 PM

Post #7130054

A poor tree will soon evidence its weaknesses. However, many people have not gotten the message. I saw hundreds of Bradford pears as I drove up country this week. People believe what they think they see. Obviously, they've seen the Bradford pear all pretty and green or vibrant with its fall colors. They've not seen the ones all toppled over after a few years; or if they did, they didn't know the whys and wherefores.

Maybe if we keep talking---and writing--a few more people will get it.
Macomb, MI
(Zone 5b)

March 3, 2011
10:37 AM

Post #8404557

My bradford pears are beautiful... I guess I'm not understanding what the all negativity is??


Benton, KY
(Zone 7a)

March 3, 2011
10:58 AM

Post #8404581

The wood is weak and prone to breaking. Genetically, the branch angles grow in a manner that makes them weak as well. The trees leaf out early and hold their leaves later, so that adds to the weight when stress happens. I'm afraid it isn't a matter if 'if' they will split and break, but 'when' they will.


Murfreesboro, TN
(Zone 7a)

March 4, 2011
11:30 AM

Post #8406698

A nearby property has a row of Bradfords lining their driveway. I agree they are beautiful in spring bloom and again in fall. But the flowers do stink (and I am also allergic - double strike), and I've seen too many of them split during storms, tearing off gutters, puncturing windows, and otherwise make a nuisance of themselves. And their inevitable offspring are not ornamental - just another woody weed to be mowed down and kept in check.
Lansing, KS

March 7, 2011
6:16 AM

Post #8411598

There are Bradford Pears everywhere you look in the Kansas City area. Being new home owners 13 years ago & unfamiliar with Bradford Pears, we decided to plant one in our front yard. Who knew the problem with them? We certainly didn't, but with every ice storm, we saw one by one all of the Bradford Pears in our neighborhood split in two. Ours was now 12 years old. We knew it was only a matter of time before it fell & damaged something, so late last fall, we had it cut down & removed. Now our concern is the one in our neighbor's yard, which is older, coming down into our yard. We're hoping to convince them that it would be wise to remove it.

Unlike others though, I never noticed a bad scent from the flowers and I never had a problem with volunteers other than a couple suckers.
Columbus, OH

March 7, 2011
10:26 AM

Post #8412139

The Bradford Pear that is in my front yard--and was there when I bought the place almost 20 years ago, is lopsided from being shaded by the neighbor's large maple--yet it continues to survive ice storm after ice storm, even Hurricane Ike a few years ago, while other types of trees in the neighborhood have been badly damaged; I've only had a few seedlings come up as well. The fall color is really spectacular.
But, I don't particularly like the flowers, the fruit doesn't seem to be really useful (although this winter I did see robins scavenging them from the ground), and the tendency to hold its leaves until very late in the year is rather a nuisance when they finally fall and must be cleaned up in December! I think if I had to replace it I would choose something else --(but definitely not a crabapple, another over-planted mess)
Manassas, VA

March 7, 2011
4:39 PM

Post #8413051

I fell in love with Bradfords about 20 years ago when we moved into our house. The town is planted with them and I was completely taken with their shape and how lovely they are in the springtime.

The love affair is OVER. Thank goodness I never planted one in my yard. A good breeze and those suckers split in half. I'll just enjoy photos of their beauty. I don't want one near my yard.
Spring Hill, FL
(Zone 9a)

March 8, 2011
8:23 AM

Post #8414285

I was working in Quebec when they had bad ice storms and the steel towers as well as the sturdy maples came down, Why pick on Bradford pears? No trees can withstand severe ice storms without damage.
Oklahoma City, OK

March 9, 2011
4:35 AM

Post #8415922

Bradford pears are indeed beautiful but they are the first to go when bad weather hits in Oklahoma.
They were once used extensively in home and corporate landscaping but we just don't see them much anymore. The cost of pruning, cleaning up after them, and replanting once they have been destroyed is just not worth the few years of beauty they provide.

There were once lovely, impressive plantings of them on the college campus where I work. The man responsible for planting them has since retired and runs his own tree farm. I spoke to John a few years back, after every last Bradford pear on the sprawling campus had been destroyed in a particularly severe ice storm. Not one other tree he had planted had been affected, but the "holes" in the landscape where the Bradford pears had once been were particularly noticeable because they were filled with piles of kindling.

John's only regret, after many years of planning, choosing, and planting thousands of trees, shrubs, and perennials during his carerr at the college were those Bradford pears.

He neither sells them nor does he recommend planting them in this area.
Spring Hill, FL
(Zone 9a)

March 9, 2011
7:57 AM

Post #8416246

WOW! Selective ice storms that completely demolish every Bradford Pear in the area, leaving every other tree untouched? INCREDIBLE! Sure glad I don't live in Oklahoma...or Kansas where tornados sweep little girls into strange lands where wizards live.


Murfreesboro, TN
(Zone 7a)

March 9, 2011
2:45 PM

Post #8416947

Weak branches and even entire older weakened trees can certainly come down in an ice storm, but I have seen tornadoes, ice storms, and occasionally just strong straight winds take out specific trees - my guess is it's because of their branching, shape and nature (including weak-wooded tress such as 'Bradford' and mimosas.)

Case in point: we have numerous trees in our subdivision (it's about 30-40 years old.) In recent memory, storms have damaged mainly the Bradfords, one of which tore off part of my next-door-neighbor's gutters corner of the roof and punctured a window. Other trees on his property and ours, including dogwoods, magnolias, ash, maples, hemlocks, oaks and even purple-leaf plums, did not suffer anything more than a few downed (small) branches. I've seen 'Bradford' trees sheared off to a stump in winds that left much larger and older (and potentially weakened) trees intact.
Oklahoma City, OK

March 9, 2011
5:31 PM

Post #8417289

The same ice storm that took out the Bradfords on the campus and in the city in general also took out other weak wooded trees in the city.
Mimosas, for sure, cotton woods, and older redbud trees as well.
John was smart enough not to plant mimosas or cottonwood trees on the campus and the redbuds were not very old.
The cypress he'd planted did well, however, as did the cedars, oaks, and Chinese pistache. The pear trees were all about the same size and age, too.
Even though they had been expertly planted and pruned they may have just hit their maximum age for flexibility.
Another issue here is that we can have shirt sleeve weather one day and below freezing the next. Many plants, including roses, never go completely dormant.
That may have also be a factor in the downing of so many Bradfords during ice storms, I do not know.
Where I grew up in the Rockies, winter hit in late October and it stayed cold until at least May. We didn't have issues with alternating weeks or days of cold and warm weather, ice storms, tornadoes, or even strong straight winds.
Snow loads and grazing critters did far more damage.
Maysville, KY

February 20, 2012
1:33 PM

Post #9013625

what causes the rings of holes that seem to be on all bradford pear


Benton, KY
(Zone 7a)

February 20, 2012
1:37 PM

Post #9013633

A common pest is the flathead appletree borer...they like most fruit trees, especially apples and pears and are hard to get rid of once established.
Columbus, OH

March 26, 2013
8:30 AM

Post #9462454

My tough lopsided Bradford pear, mentioned above, has also now survived the derecho storm of last June without any damage and several other weather events that have brought down many large branches and trees in the neighborhood, including the heavy wet snow and ice of 2 weeks ago that did a lot of damage.
I'm not saying this in particular defense of Bradfords, just a curiosity to me. Maybe it should be cloned!

You cannot post until you register and login.

Other Article: Lessons of the Bradford Pear Threads you might be interested in:

SubjectThread StarterRepliesLast Post
Exotic can be chaotic LLMac 0 Mar 5, 2009 1:20 PM
Agree 100% DitchLily206 4 Mar 7, 2011 8:04 AM
Great job! Tir_Na_Nog 1 Mar 5, 2009 4:52 PM
Thank you! quiltjean 0 Mar 9, 2009 1:53 PM
Didn't know this when we "inherited" one kmm44 1 Mar 7, 2011 7:19 AM

Overwhelmed? There's a lot to see here. Try starting at our homepage.

[ Home | About | Advertise | Media Kit | Mission | Featured Companies | Terms of Use | Tour | Rules | Privacy Policy | Cookie Policy | Contact Us ]

Back to the top

Copyright © 2000-2015 Dave's Garden, an Internet Brands company. All Rights Reserved.

Hope for America