Posted: June 06, 2024

Callery pear trees – particularly the ‘Bradford’ variety – were once incredibly popular due to their fast growth, beautiful spring blossoms, and pest resistance.

But over the years, experts have found these trees have quite a few characteristics that no longer make them desirable for home landscapes.

‘Bradford’ pear trees have a weak branch structure, making them prone to splitting, especially during snow and ice storms and high winds. This can create property damage or personal injury risks. Their short life spans don’t help this, increasing their susceptibility to various diseases and pests.

The ‘Bradford’ pear also cross-pollinates with other pear trees, which has led to them becoming an invasive species that outcompetes native plants and disrupts healthy ecosystems.

If you have ‘Bradford’ pear trees on your Massachusetts property and are considering what to do about them, we have some solutions for you. Let’s talk about why ‘Bradford’ trees are bad and what trees look similar to ‘Bradford’ pears, so you can find replacement solutions for these invasive trees.

Why Are ‘Bradford’ Pear Trees Being Banned in Massachusetts?

While there hasn’t been a statewide ban on ‘Bradford’ pear trees in Massachusetts just yet as there has been in other states, some cities or municipalities are increasingly enacting local regulations or guidelines discouraging or banning the planting of ‘Bradford’ pear trees.

Why are ‘Bradford’ pear trees bad? Due to common ‘Bradford’ pear tree problems, such as their weak branch structure, susceptibility to disease, and ability to cross-pollinate with other pear trees and produce invasive offspring, arborists are no longer recommending them for planting. The tree is currently being added to the Massachusetts Prohibited Plant List.

For specific and up-to-date regulations, it’s always best to check with local government authorities or university extension services. 

Some may say, ‘Bradford’ pear trees are known for having an unpleasant smell. Why do ‘Bradford’ pear trees smell bad? The tree’s flowers contain chemical compounds called amines - trimethylamine being one of them. This substance is found in decaying fish and contributes to the odor. While the scent may have evolved as a way to deter animals from eating the flowers, this can also discourage beneficial insects like pollinators. It can also draw more pollinators like flies that are attracted to this decaying smell.

Where are ‘Bradford’ Pear Trees Banned in the U.S.?

Currently, South Carolina, Ohio, and Pennsylvania have banned the ‘Bradford’ pear tree, and legislatures in Missouri and Kansas are also considering it.

Additionally, some states, such as Tennessee and Kentucky, have banned the sale of ‘Bradford’ pear trees on state property or through state-funded programs. Additionally, some cities and counties across the country have enacted local ordinances prohibiting or restricting the planting of ‘Bradford’ pear trees on public land or as part of landscaping projects.

How Can I Remove My ‘Bradford’ Pear Tree?

Contacting a Massachusetts licensed tree care professional is the best way to remove any trees on your property. This can also ensure it’s done the right way, so pieces of this tree aren’t left to cross-pollinate and create invasive species.

Contact your local Hartney Greymont office for help with proper tree removal.

What Trees Look Similar to Bradford Pear?

Several trees share similar characteristics with ‘Bradford’ pear trees, making them popular choices for landscaping. These traits include showy spring blossoms, relatively fast growth, and manageable size.

Some examples include the flowering cherry tree and the flowering crabapple tree. More examples are listed below.

Best Trees To Replace ‘Bradford’ Pear Trees in Boston

Replacing ‘Bradford’ pear trees with more suitable alternatives is a wise choice, especially considering their susceptibility to disease and structural weaknesses. Here are some suggestions for trees that can thrive in Boston's climate and soil conditions while offering beauty and resilience:

  • Redbud, Cercis canadensis – With its striking pink flowers in early spring, the Eastern Redbud adds a burst of color to the landscape. It's adaptable and can thrive in various soil types. In fall, its heart-shaped leaves turn a buttery, golden yellow. The eastern redbud can reach 20- to 30-feet tall with a spread of 25 to 35 feet at maturity.
  • Flowering dogwood, Cornus floridaFlowering Dogwood It offers beautiful white or pink flowers in late spring and attractive red fruits in the fall. Growing to an average height of 20 to 25 feet tall with a 15- to 20-foot spread, this tree thrives in well-drained soil and full or partial sun. The nonnative Kousa Dogwood is resistant to dogwood anthracnose and dogwood borer that sometimes afflict Flowering Dogwood.
  • Serviceberry, Amelanchier laevis and Amelanchier canadensis – This tree offers delicate white flowers in spring, followed by edible berries loved by birds, and foliage with vivid red and gold shades in fall. They have a beautiful fall color and are generally disease-resistant. It can reach a height and spread of 15 to 25 feet.
  • ‘Winter King’ hawthorn, Crataegus viridis – With its twisted branches and dense, spiny growth, and abundant red berries this tree adds interest and color to the winter landscape. During spring, it produces clusters of fragrant white flowers, followed by bright red berries, making it a valuable ornamental tree year-round. It offers a compact size and is tolerant of various soil types.
  • Red buckeye, Aesculus pavia – This tree, known for its striking clusters of vibrant red flowers in early spring, adds a burst of color and attracts hummingbirds and insect pollinators to the home landscape. This tree can reach 15- to 20-feet tall.
  • Yellowwood, Cladrastis kentuckea – This tree is prized for its graceful, cascading branches and clusters of fragrant white flowers in late spring, as well as its smooth gray bark. It can reach 30 to 50 feet in height with a 40- to 55-foot spread and has a broad, round crown.
  • Carolina silverbells, Halesia carolina – This deciduous tree is renowned for its drooping clusters of bell-shaped, white flowers that bloom in spring, adding a delicate and ethereal beauty to the landscape. It typically grows to a moderate size, with a rounded crown and attractive grayish-brown bark. Its foliage consists of glossy green leaves that turn yellow in the fall.
  • Magnolia virginiana, Sweetbay magnolia – This small to medium-sized tree is characterized by its extremely fragrant, creamy-white flowers that bloom in late spring to early summer, offering a delightful sensory experience. The flowers contrast beautifully against the tree's glossy, dark green foliage, creating a striking display. Sweetbay Magnolia typically grows in a pyramidal shape and can reach heights of up to 30 feet.

At Hartney Greymont, we have both ISA and Massachusetts certified arborists located in Needham, Concord, Danvers, Cape Cod, and the surrounding areas to help you with your ‘Bradford’ pear tree removal and replacement.

Contact Your Local Hartney Greymont Office For All Your Tree Care Needs

Hartney (19)
Hartney (19)

Get In Touch With Us!

We pride ourselves at Hartney Greymont on providing prompt, professional, and personalized service from certified arborists that live, work, and engage in your community. Contact one of our Hartney Greymont specialists for your residential and commercial needs in Needham, Concord, Danvers, Cape Cod, and the surrounding areas.

Let's Find What
You're Looking For!