Environment Planet Earth Manage and Identify Bradford Pear By Steve Nix Steve Nix Writer University of Georgia Steve Nix is a member of the Society of American Foresters and a former forest resources analyst for the state of Alabama. Learn about our editorial process Updated April 6, 2019 Alpsdake/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0 Share Twitter Pinterest Email Planet Earth Outdoors Weather Conservation "Bradford" is the original introduction of Callery pear and has an inferior branching habit when compared to other flowering pear cultivars. It has many vertical limbs with embedded or included bark packed closely on the trunk. The crown is dense and the branches long and not tapered, making it susceptible to breakage. However, it does put on a gorgeous, early spring display of pure white blossoms. Fall color is incredible, ranging from red and orange to dark maroon. Basic Information Scientific name: Pyrus calleryana ‘Bradford’ Pronunciation: PIE-rus kal-ler-ee-AY-nuh Common name: ‘Bradford’ Callery Pear Family: Rosaceae USDA hardiness zones: 5 through 9A Origin: not native to North America Uses: container or above-ground planter; parking lot islands; tree lawns; recommended for buffer strips around parking lots or for median strip plantings in the highway; screen; shade tree Native Range The Callery pear was introduced into the United States from China in 1908 as an alternative to native pears that were subject to severe fire blight. These pears tended to be blight resistant and would grow in nearly every state with the exception of those on the northern and southern fringes of North America. This tree has become invasive over portions of the area of introduction. Physical Description Height: 30 to 40 feet Spread: 30 to 40 feet Crown uniformity: symmetrical canopy with a regular (or smooth) outline, most individuals having identical crown forms Crown shape: egg-shaped; oval; round Crown density: dense Growth rate: fast Flower and Fruit Flower color: white Flower characteristics: spring flowering; very showy Fruit shape: round Fruit length: < .5 inch Fruit covering: dry or hard Fruit color: brown; tan Fruit characteristics: attracts birds; attracts squirrels and other mammals; inconspicuous and not showy; no significant litter problem; persistent on the tree Trunk and Branches Trunk/bark/branches: bark is thin and easily damaged from mechanical impact; stems can droop as the tree grows and will require pruning for vehicular or pedestrian clearance beneath the canopy; routinely grown with or trainable to be grown with multiple trunks; not particularly showy out of season; no thorns. Pruning requirement: requires pruning to develop a strong structure Other Callery Pear Cultivars "Aristocrat" Callery Pear "Chanticleer" Callery Pear In the Landscape The major problem with the ‘Bradford’ Callery pear has been too many upright branches growing too closely together on the trunk. This leads to excessive breakage. Use the recommended cultivars above for better landscape management. Pruning Bradford Pear Prune the trees early in their life to space lateral branches along a central trunk. This is not easy and a skilled pruning crew is needed to build a stronger tree. Even following pruning by a skilled crew, trees often look misshapen with most of the lower foliage removed and the lower portions of the multiple trunks showing. This tree probably was not meant to be pruned, but without pruning has a short life. In Depth Callery pear trees are shallow-rooted and will tolerate most soil types including clay and alkaline, are pest and pollution-resistant, and tolerate soil compaction, drought, and wet soil well. ‘Bradford’ is the most fireblight-resistant cultivar of the Callery pears. Unfortunately, as ‘Bradford’ and some of the other cultivars approach 20 years old, they begin to fall apart in ice and snow storms due to inferior, tight branch structure. But they are certainly beautiful and grow extremely well in urban soil until then and probably will continue to be planted because of their urban toughness. As you plan downtown street tree plantings, remember that in downtown sites many other trees succumb before this one due to a variety of reasons, but the Callery pears seem to hang on pretty well despite the problems with branch attachments and multiple trunks.