Saturday, January 29, 2011


If your true love gives you a partridge in a pear tree for Christmas next year, you'd better check it out. If the tree is a Bradford Pear (BP), stay out from under. These trees are dangerous!

We have them throughout "Montpelier," a community of 750 Levitt houses built nearly 50 years ago. BP’s are fast-growing, showy trees, which were once the darlings of landscapers. They bloom spectacularly each spring. Other than that, they smell bad, provide no food for birds and crowd out native trees in the wild.  Worst of all, they are brittle.

The taller and older they grow, the more fragile they get. They shed branches with little provocation, dropping them on parked cars or strolling people. Sometimes a tree will split right down the middle, falling across a driveway or blocking a front door. One neighbor, who defended the BP for its beauty after my husband called it a “junk tree,” woke up the next morning to find half his tree lying in the street.

This week, we had three inches of heavy, wet snow. BP branches and half-trees still litter the landscape. 

The BP was developed in 1963 as an ornamental tree by a scientist at the USDA station in Glen Dale,  Prince George’s County, MD.  It was adopted as the “county tree” by the County Council of Prince George’s County in the 1970’s. A resolution to disown the tree was introduced in 2008.  I can't find anything online that tells me the resolution was passed. My guess is that the County Council just wishes the whole problem would just go away. 


Lena said...

Junk tree, good term for all the problems it causes. Very scary to think that they can fall so suddenly.

Do you think the resolution will get passed in time? I am sure your neighbor has a different opinion now!

Nancy said...

I couldn't agree more. They were planted in mass quantities in the town I lived in last and they just don't live very long and as you say over all they are really a junk tree.

happypitbull said...

Around here, the junk tree is the cottonwood. If the wind blows even a little bit, don't stand under a cottonwood. Bradford pears are popular here, too, but I never understood the attraction to them. In fact, I rather resent them for being called Bradford PEARS when there are no (edible) pears to be found on them! Hmph!