I didn’t realize folks had such strong feelings about Bradford Pear trees.
These are the trees with pretty white blossoms that you often see lining roadways or neighborhoods.
Well I didn’t realize people had such strong feelings about them till I read a social media post where a friend likened them to CILANTRO — in that some people really like them while others absolutely hate them.
I personally think Bradford Pears (which apparently are native to Asia and are starting to be regarded as an invasive species here) look pretty but they smell awful when in bloom.
I won’t say what I think they smell like because I’ll get in trouble, but I think they have quite a distinctive and unpleasant odor. And I understand that they’re not a hardy tree, meaning they are easily toppled or their branches are easy to break.
And there are folks who have very strong feelings about these trees as I learned from my friend’s post. I also asked my own friends on social media what they thought of the pretty Bradford Pear. I posted a photo of the trees and simply said “How do you feel about Bradford Pear trees? Be honest.”
Within minutes I had dozens of comments.
Here are some of the responses from both my friend’s post and mine ...
1. I can’t stand ‘em. But, when I was landscaping in the early 2000s I planted them everywhere. So I added to the problem.
2. Rotten. Fishy, fishy, fishy
3. It’s god awful! Indeed, it’s got the asparagus “some smell it in pee, some don’t” thing going on.
4. I was today years old when I found out what a Bradford Pear tree was on a stroll today ... it is kind of nasty smelling.
5. Cut ‘em all down.
6. Pretty but the smell is awful.
7. Soulful to the eyes but funky to the smelling senses.
8. I LOVE them. The contrast between the white blooms and the dark wood is beautiful. And, although I’ve tried, I have never smelled them. Stinky or any other way. They just don’t smell to me
9. They’re a blight on the landscape.
10. Hate them. They stink, they shed, and when the slightest wind blows, they break and cause terrible damage.
11. They are terrible! So invasive! I can’t believe we are allowing them to still be sold.
12. They’re beautiful in pictures or when my nose is stopped up.
13. Please include good alternatives if Bradford pears aren’t preferred. They’re so pretty but my goodness at the pollen.
14. Love/hate ... can’t stand the smell but beautiful flowering in spring.
15. They’re terrible trees. They smell awful. Their branches are weak, getting wrecked by minor storms and moderate wind. Sometimes the branches even break by putting too much pressure on each other.
16. Beautiful! My grandmother loved Bradford Pears and I planted some in her honor. They do break off easy once they get bigger.
17. They’re terrorists to my histamines.
18. They’re horrible for the environment and our native plants.
19. I think they’re ugly and stinky. And temperamental. A little wind or ice and they literally keel over.
20. Looks pretty, smells funky, messes with my allergies a little.
21. Hate them. Invasive and they smell.
22. They’re only pretty when they are grouped with several others in a row. I expect after this week’s rainfall there should be several of them down, because they cannot withstand anything.
23. How I figured out my smell had finally fully returned after COVID.
24. They’re definitely polarizing. I think I honestly can’t smell them. They’re pretty. For like a minute. They’re a fairly soft tree and have been bred to grow a certain way so they’re flawed. Kinda like a pure bred dog that’s beautiful but dumb as a bag of hair.
25. They are stunning to look at but their outward beauty causes my allergies to act up.
26. Passionate hate! They are non-native Asian invasives right up there with privet, kudzu and nandina. Honeybees can collect needed pollen from them in the spring, but they choke out native species, which is bad. They are weak, stinky and a terrible addition to any landscape.
27. I do not like them. They are beautiful but they stink. They look strong but are really weak, they split and tear up your property.
28. As above with the fragility issues. The second generation of them develops thorns. This has caused problems with tractor tires for our public works crews.
29. I had one in my yard and cut it down this year. It’s a tree that serves no purpose but to look good when it first blooms.
30. They are so pretty in the spring and fall, but they are so fragile. The limbs break with the slightest wind storm.
31. Junk trees that should have never planted. The limbs are weak and will break as they mature. Plus the stink is atrocious.
After getting all this feedback in just a few minutes, I even consulted an expert. Keith Mickler, the county extension agent, had pretty much the same thoughts as most of those who commented.
“For beauty, you can’t beat that white bloom,” he said. “But they’re invasive and they smell. People seem to be very agitated by them. They have become invasive. All the ones you see in the wild are because the seeds get carried along in water or on the wind or by birds. They’re spreading and displacing native trees. They have poor branching structure and break all the time.”
Well there you have it, the public has spoken and of those who commented on my post, the consensus is overwhelmingly AGAINST the Bradford Pear. Are there alternatives that are just as pretty? Offer some suggestions and maybe we’ll see a change in the landscape.