Bradford pear (Pyrus calleryana), also known as Callery pear, is a deciduous tree that can grow up to 60 feet in height and two feet in diameter. Native to China and Taiwan, its seeds were brought over to North America and experimented on to improve fireblight resistance for the common fruiting pear (P. communis). Unsuccessful with the experiments, Bradford pear emerged in the U.S commerce as a new ornamental tree, leading to massive landscape plantings. Due to structural weakness, such as limb breakage from wind, ice, and snow, Bradford pear became less popular as an ornamental. Its non-sterile fruit has enabled Bradford pear to escape from lawns and gardens and to naturalize in native ecosystems.
Bradford pear is a thornless ornamental pear tree that typically grows 30-50 feet tall with a pyramidal dome that becomes broader with age. It has narrow-oval, glossy, dark green leaves that dance in the wind due to long petioles. In the fall, leaves turn reddish-purple to bronze-red. Five-petaled, creamy white flowers bloom in dense corymbs in the early spring. In North Carolina, Bradford pear has been observed within the Mountain, Piedmont, and Coastal Plain.
Fact Sheet: Bradford Pear