Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Flowering Pear, Callery Pear
Pyrus calleryana 'Bradford'

Family: Rosaceae (ro-ZAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Pyrus (PY-russ) (Info)
Species: calleryana (kal-lee-ree-AH-nuh) (Info)
Cultivar: Bradford

2 vendors have this plant for sale.

6 members have or want this plant for trade.


over 40 ft. (12 m)

20-30 ft. (6-9 m)

USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun


Bloom Color:
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Mid Spring

Grown for foliage

Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From herbaceous stem cuttings
From woody stem cuttings
From semi-hardwood cuttings

Seed Collecting:
N/A: plant does not set seed, flowers are sterile, or plants will not come true from seed

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5 positives
3 neutrals
19 negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Negative coriaceous On Apr 3, 2014, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

I concluded that this tree is an inferior ornamental long before I found out that it's invasive.

The lifespan of this cultivar is typically 10-15 years, with luck perhaps 20. (Dirr) I can't count the number of 'Bradford' pears I've seen split and disintegrate before reaching maturity, because the tree's architecture can't support its own weight, especially in windy, snowy, or icy weather.

The flowers are pretty and very early, but they have a powerful pervasive stink.

The foliage is attractive and rarely troubled by disease. Fall color is generally good. But these merits don't begin to make up for the short lifespan.

This tree is tremendously overplanted. I find it has a plastic, mass-produced quality. Given the variety of beautiful flowering trees that are available, why not choose something with more character and a longer life?

'Bradford' is self-sterile, but it produces copious viable seeds (bird-dispersed) when it can cross-pollinate with another cultivar, or with root suckers when it's grafted, as it almost always is. The offspring are usually spiny and have become destructive of natural habitat in the eastern US, according to the US National Park Service and the US Fish and Wildlife Service:

This species has naturalized from New York to Michigan, Kansas and Texas, and also in Utah and California.

Negative Suzy_Bee On Sep 1, 2013, Suzy_Bee from Spring, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

My husband planted three Bradford pears several years before we were married and I moved in, he said, to provide quick shade in front of the house. On a positive note, they are pretty in our Houston fall, which is late November/early December, with deep russet leaves. They are also pretty when they first flower in spring, the birds love to perch in them throughout the year.

Several years ago I noticed fire blight developing in all three trees. I tried sanitation pruning, but the bacterial infection soon returned. After reading all the negative information about the weak wood of the trees, etc., I've been secretly hoping the fire blight and recurrent Texas drought will do them in. One is about 25-30%, and the other two are not far behind.

Mine do NOT have thorns, nor do they bear fruit, but now that I read of the tree's invasive tendencies and proclivity towards mutation, I will investigate some sprouts I've seen pop up that do bear thorns. OUCH!

Negative rjflory On May 28, 2013, rjflory from FLINTVILLE, TN wrote:

While they look nice in the spring, the blooms smell awful. The trunk is weak and prone to major breakage during wind storms. My wife and I call them "snap-off trees" because intentionally planted (decorative) trees snap-off or split so often, leaving homes and offices with large, obvious gaps in their manicured landscape.

The wild, mongrel escapees are not so vulnerable. This tree is an aggressive invader, it is the kudzu (or fire ant) of the tree world and rapidly displaces native trees. The thorns are insidious, having made several holes in both me and my tires.

This tree should be destroyed on sight. Tips on most effective means: . Please realize that I am a tree-lover, but these things are a real threat...

Positive cactusjumper On Apr 3, 2013, cactusjumper from Glendale, AZ (Zone 9b) wrote:

Assuming I have the correct Bradfort Pear that everyone is talking about here, I have to say I don't understand all the negative comments. This is an absolutely beautiful tree. It does get little white flowers on it at the begining of the growing season, but not so many that it is very messy. Slow to grow, but as it does, it is still a beautiful tree. Dark green leaves fill the branches and create a wonderful shade. In the fall, the leaves turn a rusty brown, yellow, and red. Absolutely beautiful. It does drop all the leaves for a few months here in the deserts of Arizona. Well worth cleaning up and waiting for the tree to start growing new leaves. Only from mid December to mid March is it bare. I LOVE this tree. No thorns and I don't have any problem with envasive behavior at all. It is planted just a few feet from a block wall and the roots have not caused any problem there either. Honestly, I don't see any of the negative commets about this tree with the Bradford Trees I have.

Negative de49amep On Feb 26, 2012, de49amep from Clemson, SC wrote:

I feel strongly enough about this noxious invasive species that I will add to the already overwhelming negative responses.
This is not simply a weed. It is incredibly noxious, a worthless plant that is spreading rapidly, taking over native plants and landscapes.
If it made an edible fruit things might be different. If it had useful wood things might be different. But it produces a flower for a short while, and then copious quantities of fruit and seeds which are then spread everywhere. I shudder to think of the cost we are going to have to pay to control something that was willfully spread and propagated for questionable vanity.
I can think of two redeeming factors: it isn't poisonous...and at least something eats the fruits - birds and raccoons.

Negative luciee On Feb 28, 2011, luciee from Hanceville, AL (Zone 7a) wrote:

I also hate this tree. The wood is weak and it can blow over in strong winds. I hate the fact that it can cross pollinate with other pears. I also wish it could be infected with something that would kill all of them and not hurt anything else.

Negative hortulaninobili On Jan 11, 2011, hortulaninobili from St. Louis, MO (Zone 6a) wrote:

Pyrus calleryana 'Bradford' (inlcuding cultivars and hybrids of this species):

I passionately hate this tree and all cultivars of it. Very many better options exist. This tree is the progenitor of malice and becomes a weed. I have seen saplings/trees grow along fencerows, under power lines, at the base of gutters, in wasted areas, old fields, and at the edge of woods (grows as pioneer species), or wherever birds congregate. If someone could work on a biocontrol method for controlling/killing this tree (i.e. a devastating fungus, bacterium, or pest) while at the same time not affecting any other plants, I think they would be brilliant! Anyhow...

In spring, flowering brings the strong fragrance reminiscent of one stepping in dog faeces. But the overall tree's appearance when flowering, doesn't look too bad.

Tree architecture looks like a lolipop stuck in the ground (globe on a stick appearance). Unnatural and looks completely over-engineered.

In autumn, fall color is not bad. In fact, it is reliably red. Then come the dreaded European starlings (another introduced invasive species) which devour the fruits.

Poor branching structure makes susceptible to breaking in ice, storms, heavy rain, snow, a sudden breeze (weather need not be severe), and also makes this tree a liability. I have seen half-sides of this tree in various situations just sheer off during nice weather! A sudden change in wind direction, and a 10-15 year old tree is ruined.

This tree is essentially useless, has no place in landscaping, and should be listed as a federally noxious weed. The progenies of Pyrus calleryana (Bradford pear and other cultivars) symbolize a lack of creativity at all levels. It represents cheap substitution where long-term investment in the future of beautification does not exist. Think of the number of trees someone can purchase for the cost of having a Bradford pear tree removed after it collapses during a storm?
Complete waste of a tree - DON'T plant! Convince as many people as possible to not plant this!

Negative ThomPotempa On Dec 10, 2010, ThomPotempa from Houston, TX wrote:

Why do they still sell these in the stores?

There are reported issues with invasive behavior in Harris county.

This plant is a USDA "weed of the week".

I am going to have to tear out the four I planted... they are pretty in the fall I must say.

Negative aggiebot5 On Oct 12, 2010, aggiebot5 from College Station, TX wrote:

Please, no. Just no.

The original 'Bradford' WAS sterile and didn't reproduce from seed. Pretty flowers, great fall color--if weak wooded and short-lived--a fair street tree in the short run.

More recent versions of this cultivar, along with other cultivars of Pyrus calleryana, are fully interfertile. This plant is now a major pest in many areas of the U.S., producing thorny thickets that crowd out native vegetation and produce unsuitable habitat for native birds and mammals. They're not all resistant to fire blight anymore, either.

Definitely on the DO NOT PLANT list!

Positive alvinf On Dec 28, 2009, alvinf from Benton, TN wrote:

I can't plant trees here at the apartment building where I live, but I have certainly admired them here in town (Benton, Tennessee - southeast corner of state). There is such a variety to the leaves, various colors, various patterns of variegation. They bloom in Spring, but a lot of trees have white blooms in the Spring, but they are one of the most beautiful trees around here in Autumn.

Neutral CARPE_DIEM On Nov 22, 2009, CARPE_DIEM from Chicago, IL wrote:

This tree's drawbacks concerning weak branches are readily acknowledged - it shouldn't be grown as a large or even medium tree. But gardeners do have some options besides getting rid of it. A young tree can be kept small with judicious pruning right after its blooming period. An older tree can be cut down to the ground, and re-grown as a multi-stemmed shrub.

Positive encartaphile On Oct 7, 2009, encartaphile from Marshfield, MO wrote:

True bradford pears are thornless. Only accidental hybrids bear thorns, getting loose to spread through birds and other wildlife. True bradford pears also bear sterile seeds when "bred" with other true bradford pears and cannot spread. Again, only the hybrids produce viable seeds. So, if there are no thorny, non-bradford pear trees to begin with, there is no problem.
A lovely tree.

Negative MechelleT On Aug 26, 2009, MechelleT from Middleton, TN (Zone 7a) wrote:

I have to say I hate this tree.. The thorns hurt like heck if you don't know about them. I had one stick in the top of my head while mowing.. it was not fun. I have since trimmed the lower branches. The fruit grows slowly.. haven't experienced a bunch faling from the tree, but I guess I will at some point. They are nice as far as the shape and overall look of the tree, but if they are short rooted, can't eat the pears, and they "bite" you, doesn't make much sense to have them around.

Negative plortho On Jun 29, 2009, plortho from Greensboro, NC wrote:

Spent 4 hours with a chainsaw cleaning up my neighbor's bradford pear... a MILD windstorm blew it onto a fence. My mother thinks they're pretty. Truth is, they all look the same, (no character), and are structurally unsound... nothing pretty about that.
A bunch of branches emerging from the same point that collects water, rots, and splits. I've seen driveways lined with the durn things. An inevitable disaster. At least cities have stopped planting them.

Negative sassafrasgreen On May 26, 2009, sassafrasgreen from Georgetown, IN wrote:

"N/A: plant does not set seed, flowers are sterile, or plants will not come true from seed"


My next-door neighbor had some old ones that sometimes bloomed late enough not to get hit by a late freeze, and they would set fruit. There was a whole row of these lollipops across the front of their property, but now they are down to shreds after the ice storm this winter.

These alien pears DO spread by seed because I now have them sprouting as weeds in gardening beds all over my yard. Some of the young trees have thorns at the tips of the branches. While they don't breed true, they DO breed, and birds spread the seeds.

After trying to pull these things up, or clipping them at ground level just to see them re-sprout, I now HATE this tree. Not as much as I hate Ailanthus altissima, the tree from Hell, but I truly DO hate this tree. They do not belong here. Plant something else, like Serviceberry or Redbud. Both of those bloom early, and they are native.

Negative snowleopard77 On Mar 13, 2009, snowleopard77 from Apex, NC (Zone 8a) wrote:

Around here people plant this tree for its beautiful shape and flowers, but that is about all that is good about it.

If you get a bad storm, it is the first tree to come out of the ground because of its shallow root system and the branches are very weak because of its rapid growth.

The flowers on this tree have a horrible scent that is used to attract tiny fruit type flies that you can hardly notice which pollinate the flowers. The scent is overwhelming when they are planted in groups.

Negative aardvark7 On Feb 27, 2009, aardvark7 from Fort Worth, TX (Zone 7b) wrote:

This is what I call a "junk tree". Way overplanted, little character, weak wooded, structurally unsound, short-lived. Not worth the blossoms that last for a whole week -whoopee.

Negative mbhoakct76 On Apr 28, 2008, mbhoakct76 from Winsted, CT wrote:

i have 3 of these trees that were planted by previous owners, mine definately are not fruitless and yeild a hundred pears a year each, while the pears are almost edible - they are not. So they just attract insects, and are a pain to clean up in fall.
The trees grow out of control and are very hard to prune to get them looking nice -especially if not cared for in the past. On top of it the branches grow long and once weighed down by the tons of pears it produces- the look terrible and hang to almost reach the ground. So far i have not had any break but thats only because i cut the ugly thing back so much.
And yes i agree that although they look nice for a whole week - the flowers are pungent smelling.
Most nursuries sell these trees as the cheapest tree availble at 15-20 bucks- theres a reason for it.

Negative HortTiger On Jun 29, 2007, HortTiger from Inman, SC wrote:

I have never liked Bradford pears, but my disgust with them has quickly increased. The fields surrounding my house are full of seedlings and I have encountered too many pears that have split and people "clean up" and leave after an ice storm. The gaping holes left in trunks from broken leaders are "oh so attractive."

My mother has a 16+ year old one planted right beside her house. Amazingly it has never broken apart, which I think can be attributed to the shelter the tree receives from the house. Two years ago it developed a severe infection of fire blight. Since then, I have noticed more and more Bradfords around the upstate of South Carolina developing infections. Bradfords are supposedly resistant to fire blight, but the infection must have mutated slightly in this area (I am certain these are Bradfords, not Aristocrats).

The fire blight was bad enough, but now our area Bradford pears seem to be absolutely covered in cedar apple rust. My mother's beloved tree is one that is declining quickly. Many more are sure to follow. The more I look around, the more I see. I would love to replant another tree for my mother - she loves crabapples. Unfortunately pretty much anything in that family is very susceptible to both probelms. Looks like we'll be replanting with a deciduous magnolia or Japanese maple!

Neutral CaptMicha On Apr 16, 2007, CaptMicha from Brookeville, MD (Zone 7a) wrote:

We planted two 'Bradfords' on each side of the house. I was a newb and planted a butterfly garden around it.

One year the trees seem to have been infected by a blight and one died and the one in my butterfly garden has barely been holding on ever since.

The top portion of it died so I had to chop off the top, which makes it less than attractive and it keeps dropping it's branches, usually a bunch all at the same time.

I haven't had a problem, yet, with troublesome volunteers. I don't really notice a scent but I'm not happy with the droves of flying insects it draws in the spring but I supposed any flowers will do that at that time of the year.

After I dig up and move my butterfly garden, I'm planning on leaving it. As long as it's still alive I don't really mind it where it is.

Neutral Tir_Na_Nog On Feb 13, 2006, Tir_Na_Nog from Houston
United States (Zone 9b) wrote:

Said to only live 25-30 years!!!!

Negative raisedbedbob On Feb 1, 2006, raisedbedbob from Walkerton, VA (Zone 7a) wrote:

As others have stated, this tree is way overplanted. It's also very brittle. It takes not much wet snow to shed decent sized limbs or splitting. Do no park your car under them when the fruit ripens. They splatter when they land and can ruin your paint job.

Negative escambiaguy On Feb 20, 2005, escambiaguy from Atmore, AL (Zone 8b) wrote:

While many people think of this tree as being fruitless,it does form small fruit that sometimes grows into trees where you dont want them. The wild offspring they create are not like the parent tree. They are severely malformed and have thorns about an inch long that really hurt. This tree is somewhat attractive but is very overplanted to the point to where i'm tired of seeing them.

Positive DreamOfSpring On Jan 11, 2005, DreamOfSpring from Charleston, SC (Zone 9a) wrote:

I realize that this tree has a few flaws, but, I remain mesmerized by its intoxicating beauty.

In Spring when covered in tiny white flowers, it is an almost magical sight; I cannot help but feel cheerful in its presence. The show continues as the ground becomes blanketed with the "snow-like" confetti of fallen petals.

In Zone 8b, coastal SC where most foliage turns a dull grey brown in Fall, this tree knows few equals. It boasts leaves of lemon yellow, primary orange, fire engine red, and dark burgandy often all at the same time and even mixed with some lime green. In an area awash with dull shades of grey-brown, it is an awesome site. Even the brilliant shower of fallen leaves is beautiful beneath this colorful tree.

Negative melody On Nov 29, 2004, melody from Benton, KY (Zone 7a) wrote:

I have seen more of these trees uprooted by the slightest bit of wind than I care to count. The shallow roots and heavy foliage load make them a prime candidate for disaster.

They hold their leaves into December here in West KY, and sometimes a snowstorm will catch them, breaking the limbs and ruining the shape.

As Terry stated, the beautiful Spring blooms stink to high neighbor has 10 of these things and we live downwind.....ugggg! They also bloom so early here that oft-times a freeze gets them before they get really pretty...the odor is still there though.

I'm not much on these 'lollipop shaped' trees...looks like a kiddie drawing....I'll plant something else.

Negative Terry On Sep 5, 2003, Terry from Murfreesboro, TN (Zone 7a) wrote:

When I caught my first whiff of a "Bradford Pear" in full bloom, I knew I would not be a huge fan (the smell is offputting, to say the least.) When I realized how weak-wooded and short-lived these trees are, my view of them dimmed further.

Other trees such as Amelanchier spp. (aka "Serviceberry") provide as much or more year-round interest, and are not as apt to splinter like a toothpick in a normal spring storm.

Positive mystic On Sep 7, 2002, mystic from Ewing, KY (Zone 6a) wrote:

This is a beautiful flowering tree for early spring its covered in white blooms. But also makes a pretty fall show the green leaves turn to red in the fall and stay longer than most trees. These trees usually have to be replaced as they get older the limbs break in snow and storms.The fruit on this tree are not edible and can be a nuisance to keep cleaned up out of your yard.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Atmore, Alabama
Hanceville, Alabama
Lillian, Alabama
Prattville, Alabama
Glendale, Arizona
Green Forest, Arkansas
Citrus Heights, California
Clovis, California
Manhattan Beach, California
Merced, California
Mountain View, California
Stockton, California
Clifton, Colorado
Winsted, Connecticut
Bear, Delaware
Daytona Beach, Florida
Port Saint Lucie, Florida
Valparaiso, Florida
Braselton, Georgia
Colbert, Georgia
Stone Mountain, Georgia
Chicago, Illinois
Spring Grove, Illinois
Corydon, Indiana
Georgetown, Indiana
Jeffersonville, Indiana
Tipton, Indiana
Olathe, Kansas
Benton, Kentucky
Houma, Louisiana
Independence, Louisiana
Scott, Louisiana
Vacherie, Louisiana
Brookeville, Maryland
Valley Lee, Maryland
Milton, Massachusetts
Oxford, Michigan
Trenton, New Jersey
Roswell, New Mexico
Apex, North Carolina (2 reports)
Elizabeth City, North Carolina
Greensboro, North Carolina
Greenville, Ohio
Owasso, Oklahoma
Cheshire, Oregon
Johnsonburg, Pennsylvania
Warminster, Pennsylvania
Columbia, South Carolina
Piedmont, South Carolina
Benton, Tennessee
Flintville, Tennessee
Middleton, Tennessee
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Alice, Texas
Austin, Texas
Dallas, Texas
Fort Worth, Texas
Irving, Texas
New Braunfels, Texas
Spring, Texas
Sugar Land, Texas
Chesapeake, Virginia
Oakton, Virginia
Dunbar, West Virginia
Madison, Wisconsin

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