An Ode to the Bradford Pear

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Rand
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An Ode to the Bradford Pear

Post by Rand » Sun Sep 01, 2019 2:21 pm

Okay, not really. A wet, icy snow brought this one down in typical fashion.
Bradford_falls.jpg

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bbeduhn
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Re: An Ode to the Bradford Pear

Post by bbeduhn » Thu Sep 05, 2019 2:35 pm

Clickbait!

I'm expecting to read an ode to the mightiest tree in the forest (or tree lawn), and I'm greeted with a feeble, broken down weed. Pear trees used to top 200 feet in the colonial days. Its wood was used for barbells and Cutco knives, as well as stands for flat screens in pre-colonial times.

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Rand
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Re: An Ode to the Bradford Pear

Post by Rand » Thu Sep 05, 2019 8:05 pm

Ar-Har. Someone even wittier than I.

There was one several years ago that went down in all three directions at once in a minor ice storm, but I was too lazy to get a picture of it before the owner cleaned it up. I just couldn't resist this time.

Even though I know better, I still think they are pretty when they bloom in the springtime. Even the invasive mess creeping down every drainage ditch and fence row...

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bbeduhn
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Re: An Ode to the Bradford Pear

Post by bbeduhn » Fri Sep 06, 2019 8:05 am

My neighbor had a 53' callery pear tree that split in half and was removed completely a couple of months later. The bloom it had the season before the split was the most impressive bloom I've ever seen on any tree! Pear trees have a whole lot of pretty in the spring and in autumn!

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Rand
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Re: An Ode to the Bradford Pear

Post by Rand » Fri Sep 06, 2019 8:22 pm

53'? Never seen one that big in Ohio.*

One of the 'burbs of Columbus, at some misguided moment in the past, had designated the bradford pear the official city tree. They had quartet of impressive sized ones in a small 3 sided square formed by some historical buildings. Sheltered from the elements, they had gotten perhaps 1' dbh, and had filled up the whole square with their crown. Biggest I'd personally seen. Not sure if anything bad had happened, but they had all been removed the last time I wandered by.

*S. Galehouse took me to an old arboretum in the Cleveland with a callery pear roughly that size, but judging by the gangly, open crown form it wasn't a bradford.

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JHarkness
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Re: An Ode to the Bradford Pear

Post by JHarkness » Sat Sep 07, 2019 6:23 am

Rand,

Do you know why callery pears so frequently escape from planted trees in Ohio? I always hear of how "invasive" they are, and almost always, the location described in is Ohio. Or is this even the case, and they really only invade highly disturbed areas? I have never seen an escapee in my part of New York, at least I have failed to consciously recognized one. I have a big one in my back yard that is actually a very attractive tree and I can't recall it ever being damaged in a winter storm, and though it fruits every year, I've never once found a seedling. Despite this, the hate for callery pears is here as well, I remember an article this past spring regarding them; the author called the article his "warning to the public" of just how terrible they are. He went as far as to encourage the public to remove them (but I have seen no such articles telling people to remove multiflora rose or Japanese barberry), and the only reference he provided for their identification was that it "is the only white-flowering tree right now". This bit bothered me as our serviceberries had just begun to bloom and probably were mistaken for callery pears by anyone who read the article, who knows, perhaps some do-gooder began chopping down serviceberries.
"Be not simply good; be good for something." Henry David Thoreau

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Erik Danielsen
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Re: An Ode to the Bradford Pear

Post by Erik Danielsen » Sat Sep 07, 2019 8:46 am

Josh,

Speaking to NYC and WNY, you're correct in thinking that callery pear (or generally fertile backcrosses with other pear varieties, as in theory Callerys should all be one sex, hence their being labeled as "sterile," which is clearly not the case) is most noticeably and successfully invasive in disturbed habitats. They're one of the main management concerns in NYC parks where projects are underway to reestablish native vegetation. They're prone to forming nasty, thorny thickets in such settings but are not much good at invading mature forests.

That said, in natural habitats that do not have closed canopies due to natural disturbance regimes or geological factors like serpentine barrens, shoreline cliffs, grassland remnants etc. callery pear can be seriously distruptive. As these habitats are usually of limited extent they are often refugia for threatened or endangered species, so invasion by aggressive woody species can lead to their extirpation. I haven't observed them to be quite as impactful as japanese knotweed or phragmites, but they're definitely worth monitoring vulnerable habitats for.

If there are no compatible crosses near enough to your tree for a pollinator to visit both in one go, you won't get any seedlings- the "sterile" aspect working as it should! But if fertile invasive hybrid pears make their way to a location nearby, that could well change.

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