Pyrus calleryana 'Bradford'
WARNING: LOCALLY INVASIVE SPECIES
Common Name: callery pear
Type: Tree
Family: Rosaceae
Zone: 5 to 9
Height: 30.00 to 50.00 feet
Spread: 20.00 to 35.00 feet
Bloom Time: April
Bloom Description: White
Sun: Full sun
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Shade Tree, Flowering Tree
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Good Fall
Attracts: Birds
Tolerate: Drought, Clay Soil, Air Pollution
This plant is invasive in Missouri. The species should not be planted in the Midwest. Control and Alternatives

Culture

Best grown in humusy, well-drained loams with consistent moisture in full sun. Tolerates some drought once established. Adaptable to a wide range of soil conditions including heavy clays. Generally tolerant of urban conditions. Early spring flowers may be damaged by frost. Prune as needed in winter.

‘Bradford’ should be sited in locations protected from strong winds.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Pyrus calleryana, commonly called Callery pear, is native to China and Taiwan. It is an upright-branched ornamental tree. It grows pyramidal to columnar in youth, but tends to become oval to spreading with age. It is noted for its early profuse spring bloom, quality glossy green foliage and often excellent fall color. Shoots on species plants are thorny, but some cultivars are thornless. It produces small, inedible, greenish-yellow fruits (to 1/2” diameter) which are of little practical value or ornamental interest. Joseph Callery, a French missionary, discovered and collected this plant in China in 1858. In 1917, seed was brought to the U.S. from China for hybridization experiments aimed at improving fireblight resistance for the common fruiting pear (P. communis). The experiments generally proved unsuccessful. In the 1950s, callery pear emerged in U.S. commerce as a promising new ornamental tree, leading to massive landscape plantings. By the 1980s, concerns about both overplanting and structural weakness (limb breakage from wind, ice and snow) began to surface. Today, additional concerns about invasiveness (non-sterile forms are escaping cultivation and naturalizing in some areas) are being addressed. Narrow-oval, glossy dark green leaves (to 3” long) have distinctively wavy margins. Leaves dance in the breeze due to long petioles. Leaves turn attractive reddish-purple to bronze-red in fall. Five-petaled, creamy white flowers (each to 3/4” wide) in dense corymbs appear in profusion in early spring.

Genus name comes from the Latin name.

Specific epithet and common name honor Joseph Callery, a French missionary, who discovered and collected this plant in China in 1858.

‘Bradford’ is a thornless ornamental pear that typically grows to 30-50’ tall with a pyramidal habit that becomes broader with age. ‘Bradford’ has been widely planted since the 1950s in residential and commercial areas in many parts of the U.S. Notwithstanding its beautiful form, over time it has become apparent that ‘Bradford’ has inherent and significant structural weaknesses.

Problems

‘Bradford’ is particularly susceptible to limb breakage or splitting from strong winds, snow or ice. Although once exceedingly popular, it is now frequently not recommended by nurseries because of breakage potential. If used, it should be considered to be a short-lived tree that may need to be replaced in 15-20 years. It has respectable resistance to fireblight. Viable seed can be produced when Callery pear cultivars cross-pollinate. Please see below for more information on its invasive spread in Missouri and other states.

Garden Uses

Group or specimen. Shade tree. Consider using other callery cultivars that are less apt to break/disintegrate over time.