My home state of Oklahoma is well known for its windiness, but Friday April 15, 2011, was ridiculous! We had 40 mph sustained winds, with confirmed gusts to 70+ mph!!! Are you beginning to see where this is headed?
As I said, I have a love/hate relationship with Bradford Pear. I love it once it is wood, but there are so many things that I hate about it as a tree. I try to avoid being negative, but what follows is a short list of my grievances.
First off, let me say that I am using the term “Bradford” Pear quite loosely. They are generically “Callery” Pears with many cultivars, which are supposed to be an improvement to the flowering pear. “Bradford” just seems to be the most common varietal planted around here.
This brings me to my first gripe. This tree has been overplanted in the suburban landscape, at least where I live. I don’t know if landscape architects were initially to blame or if the popularity coincided with the rise of the home improvement big box store, but these trees are everywhere. Granted, they are quite striking with their profuse white flowers in the early spring, but the flowers are absolutely putrid smelling, with an odor similar to decaying flesh. I have even heard that the nectar within these flowers is so thin and of such little value that honeybees will bypass the Bradford unless they have no other options.
My second gripe is that each of these flowers produces a small hard berry (presumably some sort of berry-shaped pear), but interestingly, I have never seen these consumed by birds or other wildlife. They simply rot on the tree and drop off in the late fall, leaving behind a royal, slimy, nasty mess.
My third gripe is that the overall canopy shape is nearly identical from tree to tree. They remind me of a bunch of lollipops jammed into the ground in Candyland. They have very little character!
The tree has simple alternate leaves of about 2 ½” with a waxy/shiny appearance and subtly serrated margins.