Worst. Tree. Ever.

Early spring in Myrtle Beach showcases white flowering trees: Bradford Pears, I am reliably informed. I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen an ornamental pear before. How delightful.

Row of white flowering treesOr maybe not.

In an understated way, Wikipedia offers the first hint of trouble:

The initially neat, dense upward growth of ‘Bradford’ — which made it desirable in cramped urban spaces — also results in a multitude of narrow, weak forks, unless corrected by selective pruning at an early stage. These weak crotches make the tree very susceptible to storm damage. Because of this, and the resulting relatively short life span (typically less than 25 years), many groups have discouraged further planting of ‘Bradford’ (Ed.’s note: bolding added) and other similarly structurally deficient Callery pear cultivars (such other as ‘Cleveland Select’) in favour of increasing use of locally native ornamental tree species.

Multiple small branches with dense ornamental white flowers

Methinks that “many groups have discouraged further planting of Bradford” doesn’t quite capture the tone of the deep-seated antipathy towards the Bradford Pear:

If it’s blooming white right now, it’s a curse. This dictum especially applies to that “charming” Bradford pear your dimwitted landscaper planted in the middle of your front yard. – The Curse of the Bradford Pear

Go cut down any Bradford Pear Trees you have right now and never plant another one! – The Bizarre Reason to Cut Down Your Bradford Pear Tree

. . . this stinky, oversized tree is not worth the hassle.  From its overabundance of shade to weak branching structure, Bradford pears are the worst trees out there. – Why Bradford pears are the worst tree

Today, the Bradford pear may be the most despised tree in this part of the world. Its wood splits easily, making extra work for utility and public works crews. Its offspring pop up unbidden in forests and parks. Its blossoms are fragrant — but not in a good way. Comparisons to semen and rotting flesh are common. – The Ups and Downs of the Bradford Pear

So there you have it: Worst. Tree. Ever. I will never look at rows of white flowering trees quite the same way again.

Row of white flowering trees on embankment


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6 Responses to Worst. Tree. Ever.

  1. barbara carlson says:

    I don’t much like their fruit either.

  2. You have uncovered a moral lesson about looks being deceiving, which may not often apply to trees. Or perhaps this is an eye-opening moment about trees.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Laurna – I was quite started by the vehemence of the opposition to them, but the more I read, the better I understood it. Some say that “no reputable landscaper” will plant them anymore.

  3. Jim Taylor says:

    I’d argue that ailanthus altissimae, the misnamed Tree of Heaven (the tree about which was written the novel, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn) is a greater pest. It has shallow roots that spread wildly, suffocate other plants, and apparently the drip off its leaves is mildly toxic. The roots also spring up everywhere, in dense thickets. They grow all over Okanagan Centre, here in B.C., to the extent that at one time I thought of it as our symbolic tree. So I planted a seedling. It now has a 24-inch diameter trunk. Would you like me to ship it to you?
    Jim T

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Jim – I leave it to you to challenge the folks who think the Bradford pear is Public Enemy# 1, but I warn you that they’re pretty dug in. Regarding the shipping of the pestilential tree, stand by until further notice.

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