Bradford Pears: Beauty in Bloom, But Weak in Structure.

Real Estate Broker/Owner with Realty Arts NC Broker License #235526
Bradford Pears are currently in bloom in Cary, and are very common ornamental trees.

Unfortunately, they are short-lived species. Their limb structure makes them weak, and also susceptible to pests. My neighbors lost two limbs from theirs this afternoon, and it is debatable that they may need to remove the rest of the tree. That would be unfortunate, considering how much afternoon shade it provides to their home.

In the photos, you can see the damage done to the tree by the collapse of two large limbs. You can also get an idea of how the structure of the limbs allows water and dirt into the trunk, to weaken the limbs. That also lets insects in, and some of the photos show signs of woodpeckers drilling in to scavenge the tasty bugs. That can only compromise the structure further, as it allows more water to enter.

In the street shots, you can see my house on the left, with a Bradford Pear blooming in front. The photos show an intact trunk, with about 50 woodpecker holes. Actually, in an ice storm in 2002, we lost about 1/3 of that tree. Vigorous growth filled in the gap.
We used to have a second tree, just to the left of the existing one. The ice storm took about 70% of it down, and I removed it.
At that time, the trees were less than 10 years old.
My neighbors tree is less than 20 years old. It seems to me that a tree's life should be in the 75 to 200+ year range. It seems that a tree should offer shade and memories to multiple generations of homeowners.

But, we love our Bradford Pears for their blooms and shade and boisterous fall color. It just seems that we forget that we can lose them at any time, and that the 10 to 20 years we enjoy them might be better spent in the development and growth of a slower growing but longer lasting specimen.

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Independent Broker/Owner, Realty Arts

130 Towerview Court,

Cary, NC


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Ruth Vogt
Fairway Independent Mortgage, LLS. Equal Housing Opportunity. Regulated by the Division of Real Estate. - Colorado Springs, CO
719-592-0855 Apply 24/7

Oh, my! The blossoms are beautiful. I can see why losing a tree like this would be devasting! Great pictures. Thanks for sharing (I almost forgot what trees and grass looked like... we still have too much snow on the ground!)

Mar 28, 2010 10:10 AM #1
Peggy Chirico
Prudential CT Realty - Manchester, CT
REALTOR® 860-748-8900, Hartford & Tolland County Real Estate

I too love my Bradford pears. I know they are relatively short-lived, but I have enjoyed every second of them.  I plant a new one every few years so I won't ever be without some! 

Mar 28, 2010 10:17 AM #2
Wanda Bond
Weichert, Realtors® - Brockwell & Portwood - Chester, VA
1st Choice for Selling Chesterfield & Central VA

Hey Mike,

I was just outside my house, shaking my head and cursing (on a Sunday?) the line of Bradford Pear trees on my street, whose root system has become so vast and so strong -- apparently -- to have buckled the sidewalk enough to require remediation from the city.  Time to dig them up and replace with something less invasive. (I found this blog from a comment you made a while back on someone's blog about paid leads...You said something to the effect that with billions of people walking around on the earth who need shelter, why would one pay for leads? LOL and Amen)!

Mar 28, 2010 10:32 AM #3
Nevin Williams
Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation - Cary, NC
Senior Mortgage Advisor

Mike -  Ah, the beautiful bradford pear tree. These are also common in Sacramento and as you said are great shade trees.  Another downside is that when they bloom they have a strong pungent odor.

Mar 28, 2010 11:11 AM #4
Mike Jaquish
Realty Arts - Cary, NC
919-880-2769 Cary, NC, Real Estate


So many people fall for Bradford Pears, and do not realize that they have bought temporary shade.


There is no debate at my house.  My wife loves the pear tree, so my chainsaw stays in the shed.


I also wonder when the folks up around the corner will realize that they have a Dawn Redwood within 12 feet of the house.  A Dawn Redwood that is growing at about 3 feet a year. 

Oh.  The corollary to "7 billion people who have shelter as a basic need?"  "I'm not a 14 year old at my first dance.  I can walk across the gym and say, 'Hi!' to the cute girls without paying someone to introduce me."  LOL

Mar 28, 2010 11:12 AM #5
Mike Jaquish
Realty Arts - Cary, NC
919-880-2769 Cary, NC, Real Estate


We have so many on the street that it reeks.  Just for a week or so.

Mar 28, 2010 11:13 AM #6
Carla Muss-Jacobs, RETIRED
RETIRED / State License is Inactive - Portland, OR

Now I feel like eating a pear.  Thankfully, I have some.  And what a nice treat to have the blossoms in the spring, and the fall color!  What a survivor too!!

Mar 28, 2010 11:36 AM #7
William Johnson
Retired - La Jolla, CA
Retired Real Estate Professional

Hi Mike, I certainly understand your feelings about that stunning tree.  I am sure that no matter the time, you wouldn't have done anything differently.

Mar 28, 2010 04:22 PM #8
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919-880-2769 Cary, NC, Real Estate
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