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A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Sunday - April 24, 2011

From: Katy , TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Problems with non-native Bradford pear in Katy TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Hi. I have a Bradford Pear that I wrapped during the freeze at the base of the trunk during last years freeze. It is about 4.5 yrs old. The base has cracked and the top is dry and lifeless; however, at the base are 2 upshoots(?) about 2 feet long which are leafy and green. Even at the base is a crack in the bark. Should I try and let this tree live or just replace it?

ANSWER:

The Bradford Pear is a selection of Pyrus calleryana, native to Korea and China. The selection called the Bradford Pear was released into the retail market in 1963, with a lot of attention. However, as the trees first planted have begun to mature, a number of problems have appeared, the main one being weak trunks and branches, very susceptible to storm damage. Since this tree is not native to North America and certainly not to Texas, we would not recommend replanting under any circumstances. A tree native to an area always has a higher likelihood of being well-adapted to the soil, rainfall and climate conditions. This article from Floridata will give you more information.

In terms of the shoots coming up from the base, those are the attempts by the roots of this damaged tree to survive. They are attached to the original roots and if there is disease in the tree, it will certainly also be in those shoots. Even if they survived, it is unlikely they would make a suitable tree for your garden. We suggest you go to our Native Plant Database and search for a tree native to East Texas that will serve your purposes. We also suggest you not plant it until late Fall or early Winter, when the tree will be semi-dormant and less susceptible to damage in transplanting.

 

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