The Misunderstood Bradford Pear
In the 1960’s, urban landscapers were searching for the perfect tree to plant in parks, along highways, and along residential streets that would be fast growing, with showy flowers in the Spring, and vibrant color in the Autumn. They found their tree in China, Japan, and Vietnam. What would eventually be named the Bradford Pear became that tree of choice. Since then, everything changed. The flowers were foul smelling, and the lifespan was short, at about twenty-five years. On top of that, the small brown fruit was a favorite of birds, who were very efficient spreaders of those seeds, and suddenly the tree joined the “invasives” club. Today the trees are no longer being planted, and many municipalities have banned them outright. The survivors, however, continue to be visually stunning, being the first to flower in the Spring, and the last to burst into dramatic displays of red, yellow, orange glossy leaves in the Fall, long after all other trees have packed it in for the season.
In the area near my home, from the latter part of November, into December, the Bradford Pear can delight even the most dedicated leaf peeper. Here are examples that I found this weekend, and they made me completely forget everything I had read about the damage uncontrolled spreading might do to these beautiful mountains.