Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Bradford Pear: A Blessing or Bad Fortune?

A news article on Bradford Pear from SIU's Community Forestry Outreach Program, found on the Illinois Invasive Species Awareness Month blog.

We've all seen them. Driving down roadways, we awe at the rows of trees with beautiful white blossoms, usually some of the first to bloom with the arrival of spring. Their pyramidal shape gives way to an oval form as they mature, lending a manicured appearance. They bring a sense of excitement that nature is once again waking from its slumber in the spring while giving us a bright farewell in the fall with an array of scarlet, purple, and gold foliage. Have you guessed what tree species this is? Yes, it is the bradford pear tree.

Its origins are from the callery pear, Pyrus calleryana, brought over from China, Korea, and Taiwan regions. It was imported to the United States to provide resistance to the fire blight disease, although unsuccessfully. To this day, fire blight is a common problem for pear trees. Bradford pear is the original cultivar from callery pear and remains the most widely known. It was praised for its aesthetic appeal, low maintenance, and resistance to extreme environmental conditions, such as drought, soil compaction, and pollution in urban settings. Its popularity encouraged the development of several other cultivars, including the Aristocrat, Cleveland, Chanticleer, and Redspire. Several years ago, I bought a house with four of these trees bordering my driveway and, like many others, enjoyed the beautiful early blooms and late leaf drop. It is a universal landscape tree and to this day, remains frequently planted......more


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