While most pear trees are grown for their fruit, the Bradford Pear is grown for its shape. Although it is hardy in Zones 4-9, that is, it should thrive in most areas of the country, I had never seen it until I came to Tennessee.
It has a very distinctive shape, pyramidal when the tree is immature and oval when mature. It is remarkably uniform; the reason is that it was cloned from a single tree. It is noted for its rapid growth, often at the rate of two feet per year, until it reaches its full height of 30-50 feet. Its spread is 25-35 feet and it lends itself to planting in rows. I have seen it widely used here to create an "allee" leading to a property or as a windbreak/privacy screen across the front of a property. It is, unfortunately, a short-lived tree, lasting only 15-30 years, and because it is brittle, it often sustains damage from wind.
It is also remarkable for its profusion of white flowers in early spring, often before the leaves even develop. In contrast to their pleasing appearance, however, the flowers have an unpleasant odor which has been described as "like rotten fish." While it is commonly planted for its decorative value, having become a ubiquity in many suburban communities, its hard little fruits are enjoyed by birds. Here in the Southeastern United States, the Bradford Pear tends to be among the more reliable coloring trees.
Also, in Tennessee, the Bradford Pear is the very last tree to color and can remain green until mid-November. In autumn, the leaves begin to turn bright red, developing a lovely pattern and then turning to dark red before falling. The Bradford Pear is a pleasure to behold, year round, and is one of the many things I have come to appreciate here in Tennessee.
For information about Big South Fork real estate or horse properties in Jamestown, Tennessee, go to www.trailridersrealestate.com