Bradford Pear TreePyrus calleryana 'Bradford'
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Pyrus calleryana 'Bradford'
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The Bradford Pear Tree is a medium-sized flowering tree reaching around 35 feet tall and just 15 feet wide. White, scented flowers cover the bare branches in spring and in fall the leaves turn beautiful shades of gold, red and purple. Because of its upright habit and narrow form, it is an ideal choice for smaller gardens and narrow spaces. Plant it as a specimen on a small lawn or use a row as a screen along the side of your property. This fast-growing tree is a great choice to get your garden started, bringing interest and color quickly, while slower trees are still becoming established.
Plant the Bradford Pear in full sun. It will grow in most soils, including heavy clay, where many other trees will fail. It is hardy, disease-resistant and grows in almost any kind of soil. It is also drought-resistant and needs very little care or attention to be constantly beautiful. It has few pests, and it is very resistant to fire-blight, a serious disease of edible pears. Once established it is very drought resistant, and it needs no special pruning or care to be a constantly beautiful addition to your garden.
When establishing a new garden, attractive, fast-growing trees are a must. The goal is to create a look of maturity quickly, while longer living, but slower growing, trees develop. The Bradford Pear is an ideal tree for this purpose, as well as being an attractive flowering tree. It is also very tolerant of urban conditions and difficult soils, and a top choice for smaller gardens with limited room for trees. The Bradford Pear is a selected form of a species of pear tree that grows in China. It is related to edible pears, but the fruit is small, hard and inedible. Most trees produce few or no pears. Your Bradford Pear tree will grow quickly. Young trees can add 4 feet of new growth each year, so that within a few years you have an attractive specimen of a substantial size.
The Bradford Pear will grow 30 to 50 feet tall and be only 12 to 15 feet wide when young, spreading wider with age and perhaps reaching 30 feet wide in time. It has an upright trunk, with light-brown to reddish-brown smooth bark with prominent horizontal cream markings. Even when it has no leaves it looks attractive and interesting. The white flowers appear in April, just before or along with the new leaves. They are in dense clusters, and they completely smother the tree, creating a glorious sight to mark the arrival of spring. The oval leaves are about three inches long, deep green, with a smooth, glossy, upper surface. The leaves stay green well into fall, and they are among the last to change color. Fall colors are beautiful, with strong red to purple tones. Fruit is rarely produced, as this tree cannot pollinate itself. Only if other varieties of this species are growing nearby will fruit be produced. Seed cannot spread into the wild from a single, isolated tree, as almost none is produced.
This flowering pear tree has a narrow, pyramidal form, particularly when young, which makes it ideal for smaller gardens, or for those awkward narrow spaces where you need a tree, or a row of trees, but don’t have a lot of room. For example, it would be a great tree to plant along your property line in a suburban lot, where the spaces between houses are often small. Even if you have an older garden, there is still a place for a striking spring-flowering tree – on a lawn area, for example, or behind shrubs in a bed. Young trees have an attractive and unusual narrow tear-drop shape, and it looks lovely as a specimen.
The Bradford Pear is hardy from zone 5 all the way into zone 9. It grows on most soils, and it is highly adaptable to ‘less than perfect’ conditions. In particular it grows well on clay soils, which are common in new gardens and urban areas. After watering regularly for the first few years, while your tree becomes well-established, it is drought resistant and it requires no special care. It normally has no pests, and most important of all, it is resistant to fire-blight disease, which quickly kills edible pears if they become infected. Plant your tree in a sunny position, but it can be planted in shade if it will reach the sun as it grows taller.
If you live in colder areas, with heavy winter snow, the narrow, upright form of the Bradford Pear can be a problem. Breakage is possible, so for those areas, particularly if you want your tree to be with you for more than 20 years, we recommend two other varieties – ‘Aristocrat’ and ‘Chanticleer’ – instead. These have a better branching structure, and they are much more resistant to breakage.
The Bradford Pear is a selected form of the Callery Pear, Pyrus calleryana, a tree native to parts of China, Taiwan, Korea, Vietnam, and Japan. It was discovered in 1858 by Joseph Callery, a French missionary working in China. Like many missionaries of the time he was also a keen botanist. In America at the beginning of the 20th century there were serious outbreaks of the fire-blight disease in pear orchards, and as much as 86% of the crop was lost. Scientists began looking for a solution, and they found that the Callery Pear showed resistance to this disease. There were very few plants available though, and they produced little seed. The Department of Agriculture sent the famous collector Frank Meyer to China, and around 1918 he sent back seed collected from wild trees, but the trials and breeding programs didn’t produce much of commercial value.
To carry out this research many trees were planted in several parts of the country. Everyone noticed how tough and drought-resistant the trees were, and how attractive. In 1950, at the USDA Plant Introduction Station in Glenn Dale, Maryland, a particularly vigorous, thornless tree was found among their many seedlings. It was tested for eight years at a treeless residential subdivision nearby and given the name “Bradford” in honor of a horticulturist at the station.
By 1962 the Bradford Pear has been available since 1962, and it has become one of the most widely planted boulevard trees in urban areas in the United States. Our trees are produced by grafting stems of this tree onto seedling roots. The demand for this tough, fast-growing and beautiful tree is always high, so order now – our stock will soon be gone.
*Bradford Pear should not be planted in Missouri, where it has been declared invasive.