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Lazy S'S Farm Nursery - Bradford Pears

For more than 13 years, we haven't sold the Callary or ornamental pear, 'Bradford'.  It has a weak, narrow crotch angle to the limbs and breaks with age (or even younger) in wind or ice storms.  See what others have to say below.  We sell the much stronger 'Aristocrat' ornamental pear developed at the National Arboretum.  Because of the tight crotch angle of the Bradford, as the tight branches grow, they pinch bark together which eventually ends up inside of the branch angle making them VERY weak.  

Bradford Pears - and what we've been saying for years...

Alabama Cooperative Extension Agency -  

"Despite their standing as one of the most popular landscape trees in the Southeast, Bradford pears aren’t what they’re cracked up to be.  For despite all the beauty they lend to thousands of landscapes throughout the region, the trees are plagued with one fatal flaw: due to their combination of vigorous growth, weak wood and poor branch structure, they often begin falling apart after only 20 years."

Ohio State University Horticulture Dept.

     "Bradford pears have received bad press because of their tendency to break in storms due to narrow crotch angles.  Bradford pear is actually only one cultivar of the Callery (or ornamental) pears in the genus Pyrus.  Many other Callery pears have less tight crotch angles and hold up better in storms than this cultivar. For example:  Pyrus calleryana 'Aristocrat'."

Gardener's Mailbag

     "Bradford pears have a bad habit of producing limbs that are clustered tightly together. A few years later, those weakened crotches often break out in windstorms."

NC State University

     "The trouble with Bradfords is the weak limb structure. Narrow angles on any tree where the limbs attach will create weak limbs. Bark is included inside the fork and the limb gets weaker as it gets older. After a few years, a windstorm can split out the limbs. On Bradford pears, the split limb may be most of the trunk.  The narrow angles are genetic. They are caused by the amount of a plant hormone, called auxin, produced by the plant. Several buds break at the same place. The resulting limb structure is terrible."

     Well, we could go on and on with one website after another but we think you get the point.  Pruning young Bradfords can help some if you already have one but, in general, the lifespan is about 25 years (by then it's gorgeous) but you can almost count on it breaking.  When they break, they almost always take a good part of the trunk and then the tree must be taken down.

So what to do?  Plant Aristocrats 

The Aristocrat Pear looks very similar but has a more open crotch angle that makes it stronger and much more long-lived because it rarely breaks the way Bradford's do.

University of Illinois 

     "Bradford pear (Pyrus calleryana ‘Bradford’) is actually only one cultivar of Callery pears in the genus Pyrus. Many other Callery pears, such as Pyrus calleryana ‘Aristocrat’, have less tight crotch angles and hold up better in storms than ‘Bradford’. Thinking that all the ornamental pears are Bradfords is a common mistake. Knowing the difference between cultivars is part of what makes you a knowledgeable arborist."


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Lazy S'S Farm Nursery

2360 Spotswood Trail, Barboursville, VA  22923