The Bradford pear tree was once everybody’s love after being brought to the US in the mid-1960s. 

Its fast growth rate, blooming white flowers, and green leaves made the tree very popular in the summer. In the fall, its leaves turn to a beautiful shade of red and orange colors. 

It’s no wonder you couldn’t miss one or two Bradford pear trees on the sides of the road or in parks. 

However, the tree’s weak branch structure, uncontrollable invasiveness, popping roots, and smelly flowers have led to it being labeled the weed of the tree kingdom.

Several states have banned the sale of the tree, while Kentucky offers a replacement to anyone that cuts down the tree. 

So, you may wonder why all this hate? Is the tree suitable for anything? 

Worry not, for today’s article delves into everything you need to know about Bradford pearwood.  

Is Bradford Pearwood Good for Woodworking?

Bradford Pearwood is an ornamental plant that’s suitable for woodturning but performs poorly in carpentry and joinery work

It has a weak straight grain structure making it unsuitable for interlocking. It’s brittle and might break or split with heavy or prolonged use.

However, Bradford Pearwood planes relatively easily have a dense structure similar to maple in terms of workability. 

Even without polishing, the pieces are very smooth, carve well, don’t splat, and stain excellently. 

Is Bradford Pearwood Good for Turning?

Bradford pearwood is an excellent material for woodturning. 

It’s an excellent wood to turn but lacks a distinctive grain and turns brown with time. You can’t use it to make high-end furniture, but it performs well when you use it for embellishment.

It’s very soft when wet but turns into solid wood when dry. 

To use the wood, make sure that you take advantage of its softness when wet or before it dries as it’s challenging to lathe in its dry state.

It’s very tough, much like a concrete block. The pearwood also tends to crack while you’re working on it, and you must ensure that you dry it gently. 

If you want to use it for turning, I’d recommend turning it rough while wet, then letting it dry, and then doing the finish. If you follow the steps I’ve stated above, you’ll get yourself a very smooth finished product.

Is Bradford Pearwood Good for Firewood?

Whether Bradford pearwood is a good wood for firewood causes divisions among wood enthusiasts. 

Some favor the tree for its dense and hot fires, while others argue that it isn’t favorable for food smoking due to its smell. 

The tree can only be used for firewood to generate warmth and not for barbecues as its smoke leaves a bitter taste on food.

When it blooms, its flowers are very radiant and attractive. However, they have a very discomforting smell. 

Is Bradford Pearwood a Hardwood or a Softwood?

Bradford pear tree is one very confusing tree that has woodworkers wondering. Is it hardwood or softwood? Some argue that it’s a softwood, basing their argument on the tree’s soft and weak branch structure. But is it?

No. Bradford pearwood is a cultivar of the Callery pear and is, therefore, a hardwood.

The Callery pear is an angiosperm tree with broad, deciduous leaves and produces flowers.  

Why Do Bradford Pear Trees Split?

The Bradford pear splits due to its unique but rather undesirable branch structure. 

Numerous branches originate from the same point on the stem. The branches then grow outwards, increasing the stress placed on the stem.

Eventually, either the stems become too heavy for the stem to support or strong winds overcome them hence breaking. 

They’re a colossal hazard during storms as they split relatively easily, especially if they’re older than 20 years.   

Why Is Bradford Pear Tree Being Banned?

Ohio and South Carolina are eliminating the Bradford pearwood from their nurseries and forests.

Ohio banned the sale of Bradford Peartree in 2018 while they plan to eliminate it by 2023. 

South Carolina’s ban will take effect on October 1, 2024. And you may be wondering why it’s so. 

The Bradford pearwood is an ecological nightmare that starves other trees such as hickories and maples and out populates them. 

It increases competition for nutrients, and all trees are in danger as long as the Bradford pearwood grows on American soil.

Why Shouldn’t You Grow a Bradford Pear Tree in Your Yard?

Bradford pearwood has a fragile branch structure that will easily break during strong winds, due to old age, or during heavy storms. 

The branches have a steep crotch structure, making the wood very weak at the nodes. The other parts of the branch are heavy and will either cause the branch to snap or split the stem. 

The tree is quite heavy, and a single branch can cause immense damage to your car. 

Also, the tree forms a canopy when they are grown densely. The canopy doesn’t let sunlight through and starves the smaller plants beneath them. 

How Do I Kill My Bradford Pear Tree?

Before you opt to cut down your Bradford pearwood, you should “kill” it first and allow it to dry. 

Girdling the stem is your best option. You’ll need to use a saw to cut around its stem and remove a section of its back around its diameter. 

The back usually supplies essential nutrients to the roots, so cutting the supply line starves the roots, and the tree dries up within a few months. Killing before cutting is a slow process, but it may save you from the danger of falling branches. 

As we’ve already mentioned, the pearwood is very tough when dry. You can then cut it comfortably once it’s dry.

Is Bradford Pear Tree an Edible Fruit Tree?

A Bradford pear tree produces non-edible fruits that are mildly toxic to both humans and animals. 

When ingested in large quantities, its seeds have glycosides that are enough to mix with stomach acids forming the poisonous cyanide. You’ll then feel dizzy and have a mild stomach upset. 

The tree is also a health hazard to dogs, and its fallen seeds should not be left lying on the grounds to prevent the dogs from ingesting them. 

My Takeaway

Bradford Peartree is an ornamental tree that, as you might have seen, was once used to line driveways or beautify parks. But that’s no longer the case. Governments advise residents to cut down the tree once a storm is looming for their safety. 

You might have come across some Bradford pear trees in your neighborhood. If you’re wondering what to do with them, the most straightforward answer is that they’re an excellent choice for firewood.

You won’t get much use from them beyond firewood and woodturning. Unlike the Swiss pearwood, which is much like the black cherry, the Bradford pearwood is less desirable for woodworking. Don’t confuse the two.

Sources

Pyrus calleryana