Thursday, November 1, 2012

Callery pears - just say no

There were plenty of downed-pear pictures I did not take. But every collapsed tree on the streets of Cobble Hill and points south - with one willow exception - was a callery pear (Pyrus calleryana, also called Bradford pear).

On this blog I have gone on (and on, and on) about the weak crotches - titter - of callery pears. 

They split. They fall. They crash. 

Yet a new callery pear sapling has just been planted by the city, around the corner (replacing, incidentally, a dead stump where a nice batch of oyster mushrooms grew every year). I am not sure how many pears are responsible for damage to power lines at the moment but I'm guessing quite a few.

I love their blossoms, too. 

But how much are the blossoms worth?

Sidebar: the prettiness of spring pears.
Or perhaps, this time, last year? Snow!


  1. The silver Maples behind our house are big enough (70-80ft) that they lose two enormous branches every wind storm. Sandy was no exception. Of course, I've never seen them a street tree, but often in backyards here in the city. I'm guessing many replacement callery are picked by residents.

  2. We have Bradford Pears here in the south that do the same thing. Everybody and their brother plant Bradford Pears. They line the roadways, they're in the front yard of every home in every new subdivision and every spring hundreds of them split and break. Their white blossoms are beautiful for about 2 weeks and that's about it. But they grow fast which means they aren't strong enough to withstand much wind.

  3. Maybe silver birches instead? No flowers and tiny little seeds, but we have some 50+ years old. They do grow tall, but are not spreaders.
    Also, in south Jersey sycamores are popular. A dirty messy tree. Always branches coming down, and they are trimmed to fit around wires and poles, so they look ugly, too. I guess there really is no perfect tree.

  4. ditto on bradfords. all their limbs come from the same level on the trunk, so when they start to twist in wind, they rip off, leaving a lopsided tree to come down the next time. Hate them. on with the anti-pear campaign!

    We have a lovely plum, tho, that does very well. would be a good substitute for the pears.

  5. We went through the same thing with Bradford pear trees years ago in a bad January ice storm. The City requested owners replace with a different variety of flowering pear.

    The damage caused by nature always makes me realize I don't have any big problems!

  6. Frank - yeah, I know many trees break and come down - I just like to pick on the pears...I do think that the pears should not be an option, any more.

    Barbara - I don't mind their ephemeral blossoms. I think two weeks of anything good is a pretty good deal :-)It's just those branches...

    Amy - birches. Perhaps too low hanging for traffic...I do love them.

    webb - plums. Why not more plums? Short-lived? (Guessing)

    Terri - I wonder what variety they recommended?

    1. I don't recall if they specified a variety at the time. Some online research uncovered this info from the Landscape Ordinance Guidebook:

      Callery Pear (Pyrus calleryana) Cultivars: 'Aristocrat';
      'Capital'; 'Chanticleer' 'Cleveland Select'; 'Redspire'; DO
      NOT plant 'Bradford'.

  7. Deciduous Magnolias(Star, DR Merrill) are a much better choice than a Bradford. Thanks for blogging about this subject.

  8. So sad. Have you talked directly to the city arborist? Everywhere I've lived has had one, and I'm sure someplace as big as NYC has some central coordination for these plantings. You'll get farther there than on your blog.

    1. I shall. I think he/she is a bit busy right now :-)

  9. Another issue with pears is their rampant reseeding. I expect they'll start making invasive lists soon if they haven't already. I see a lot of pear seedlings around VA and assume at least some other places struggle with this as well. Plums don't float my boat either due to insect and disease issues (especially borers). I like street trees that are more majestic and long lived than spring flowering and, well, short lived. Glad you guys are okay :)

  10. Don't forget how stinky the blossoms are.

    leylands, not so hardy either. But i digress.

    xo J.

    1. Vince hates the smell, too, but I quite like it!

      Do Leylands make good firewood?

  11. Amen! Three on my blog completely collapsed, while all the other trees barely lost a few twigs.

  12. Thank you so much for your impressions of what you are seeing. Your words have compassion in them. For that I am grateful.

    And you would think the word would get around about Bradford pears. Not only are they splitters, put they are 'spitters' - jettisoning their fruit every fall in a dangerous and slippery carpet on the sidewalks.

  13. Marie,
    As you know may know, my husband Henry is an arborist and what is his least favorite tree?
    BRADFORD PEAR TREE (he just yelled to me in the backround as I read him your post!). He hates when our towns plant them all over, though they are so pretty in the spring along the highways. (He also hates a Sycamore for other reasons, which we can discuss in another post).

    I bought a mobile hotspot for my iphone yesterday, so was able to do a blog post, and though we still have no heat or power, I am at least able to use my stove, and some restaurants are open with a generator, so there is some feeling of normalcy. Hope you guys are doing well.
    The tree is being removed from my roof today! HOORAY!

    1. Hey Stacey - I did NOT know that Henry was an arborist. Excellent profession!

      Glad you are online at last via your hotspot - that must be a relief. How is your roof, underneath the tree?

      Thinking of you guys.

  14. PS, in our town, it was mostly the old gorgeous oaks that crushed the houses, but in our case, it was an 80 foot old Norway Spruce, go figure.

  15. I know I'm late to the Bradford pear hating party (i was without power) but I smirked at every exploded callery pear tree for you out here in the burbs of NJ. Every time I saw a downed tree that looked like it had exploded, it was a callery pear.


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