Flowering Pear, Callery Pear 'Bradford'

Pyrus calleryana

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



Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun


Grown for foliage


Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us


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)

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us



Bloom Color:

White/Near White

Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Mid Spring

Other details:

May be a noxious weed or invasive

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


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Atmore, Alabama

Hanceville, Alabama

Huntsville, 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

Niceville, 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

Fayetteville, Pennsylvania

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

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Mar 19, 2019, NCMstGardener from Columbus, NC (Zone 7b) wrote:

When introduced, the Bradford Pear was thought to be sterile. Wrong! It is now escaping into to the wild where it develops wicked thorns. I removed the one in our yard a few years back. The State of South Carolina is now asking everyone to destroy their Bradford Pears because they are becoming so invasive. For early blooms, consider Prunus Mume or one of the great Japanese Cherrys.


On May 15, 2017, luella10 from Modesto, CA wrote:

My city, Modesto, CA, planted these as street trees 20 or 30 years ago. Now they are cutting most of them down for many of the reasons mentioned by other commenters. But no one has mentioned the primary reason these trees are undesirable here. Besides the messy "pears", the thorny suckers, and the seedlings, these trees seem to be exceptionally good hosts for mistletoe. Many Bradford Pear trees in my neighborhood are so infested with mistletoe that there is little space for the actual leaves. The mistletoe keeps these trees green year around. Finally, the parasite kills the host, and both the tree and the mistletoe die. In the meantime, birds have spread the mistletoe to susceptible trees all over the neighborhood. There are so many of these trees in Modesto that the city arborists can't k... read more


On May 15, 2017, greenneck from Paoli, IN wrote:

Do the world a favor and do NOT plant this monster. And if you already have it, kill it now.

I see this tree all over formerly 'wild' areas; spreading like a cancer.


On Sep 6, 2016, Hikaro_Takayama from Fayetteville, PA (Zone 6b) wrote:

When I bought my house almost 4 years ago, one of these trees came with it, and I've been plotting to remove & replace it ever since. Yes, it is loaded with tiny crab-apple sized "pears" that the birds love, but they taste like crap with a side order of dirt, and are the main reason this tree is so invasive.

Thankfully, I haven't had to deal with the susceptibility to storm damage yet, mainly due to the house, shed & a large honey locust tree blocking most of the wind. Still, not all that attractive of a tree, and I'm getting tired of dealing with the thorny base-species root suckers coming up & trying to grab me when I mow around it.

I figure that if I want a thorny tree in the rose family with fruits that the birds like, I might as well get a Hawthorn, sin... read more


On Nov 15, 2015, opal92nwf from Niceville, FL wrote:

I actually love this tree. Seems like the main reason people hate it is because it is overused and breaks up easily. I used to live in Illinois and they indeed were planted EVERYWHERE and I witnessed a lot of carnage between winds and ice storms.

However, moving back to Northern Florida, I became aware that they can grow here as well. N. FL is neither tropical nor fully a textbook northern climate. It is a kind of in-between zone where some very hardy subtropical trees/palms and northern trees/plants can grow together. Many of these more northern trees, such as your typical flowering cherry tree that would grow flawlessly and be gorgeous in the spring in Illinois, get confused in the mild winters. They tend to sparsely bloom as early as January or even December! Bradford, h... read more


On Mar 29, 2015, kiwigold from Huntsville, Alabama,
United States wrote:

We moved into a new house in 1997 - the back yard was totally bare except for grass. We had noticed the Bradford pears growing around the town and thought they would look pretty in the back. We bought two which grew quickly but about 7 or 8 years later one developed brown leaves overnight on one branch. Within a week the entire tree had only brown leaves. We called in a tree "specialist" who poked around at the bark and roots and told us he had no idea what was wrong but would cut it down for $300. We cut it down ourselves hoping whatever disease it had wouldn't spread to the other one. A couple of years later we had a bad storm and the other tree split down the middle and destroyed our patio furniture, missing the windows by less than an inch. We had it cut down and the stump groun... read more


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 beaut... read more


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 thorn... read more


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: http://www... read more


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 al... read more


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.


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.


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 ap... read more


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.


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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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 HA... read more


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.


On Feb 27, 2009, aardvark7 from Lubbock, 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.


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... read more


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 thi... read more


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... read more


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

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


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.


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.


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.


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 Heaven...my 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.


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.


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.