I hate the smell. The staff of Southern Living hates the smell. You probably hate the smell, too, even if you don’t know a stupid, stinking Bradford pear tree is the source of it. But that’s not the only reason it’s the worst tree ever.
Over at Southern Living’s YouTube channel, they’ve put together a video that’s 100 percent appropriately and accurately titled Why Bradford Pears Are the Worst Tree. It details four reasons why you shouldn’t plant the overplanted, invasive species in your yard.
Hating Bradford pears is the most passionate nonpolitical stance I have, and I’m happy to see I’m on the same side of the landscape design divide as the Grumpy Gardner and Southern Living. If you’re short on time, here are a few reasons to veto any suggestion of planting a Bradford pear:
- They smell awful: Fill a bucket with rotten fruit and fish, leave it in the sun, and come back at the end of the day. Congratulations! You’ve created the scent of a Bradford pear tree in bloom. This isn’t the most colorful way to describe it, but it’s the best I can do in polite company.
- They’re huge: What should be a dainty, ornamental flowering tree will eventually tower over your house, raining stink down on you every summer.
- They’re too shady: The density of the branches and foliage makes it difficult to grow anything—including grass—under them.
- They grow like they want to die: The branches are too symmetrical in relation to the trunk, creating a tree with very “weak” wood that’s destined to break under its own weight. Not only are you stuck with a stinky tree, but you have to pay good money to have it pruned and shaped, so it doesn’t break into pieces immediately. What a bargain!
Really, the first point about a beautiful flowering tree that smells like a rotting bucket of fish will likely be sufficient to deter anyone from planting a Bradford pear.
If you need additional motivation to shun the tree, however, do check out this deep look at its history at The Washington Post. This article outlines exactly why the creation and widespread planting of this pear tree variant was a giant mistake.