The Bradford pear trees on Raritan Avenue in the center of Highland Park, New Jersey showed some lovely foliage this fall. Trees like these were planted in many towns and cities in the 1960s. Unfortunately, this species tree is 1) not long lived 2) has brittle wood which tends to break in high winds and heavy snows. The fact that so many were planted means many communities have a monoculture (same species planted everywhere) — and if something (insect/disease) comes along and attacks; all the trees are vulnerable. It’s their white spring flowers and fall color that makes them attractive, so come back to this page in the spring for photos of the flowers.
Here’s what horticulturalist Michael Dirr says about this tree:
” … not a panacea for urban planting; to some extent problems are now starting to appear that should give reason to temper enthusiasm for the cultivar; incompatibility and severe splitting are occurring on older trees; Bradford tends to develop rather tight crotches and I’ve seen trees that were .. split in half; … its limitations have been recognized by knowledgeable plantsmen but… . buying public has not yet caught up; [ok for short term use] For 10-15 yrs with luck, the tree is magnificent… .. (also) genetically the tree is programmed to grow the way it does (with many branches around a common length of the trunk) — this cultivar was “selected” in 1963 by USDA Plant Intro Station in MD from seedlings of Chinese seed….”
Thank you to Karen Swaine for all her incredible knowledge that contributed to this post.
Photo Credit: Leora Wenger
See another Bradford pear with foliage, 2nd photo down on Raritan Ave post