Posted by: David Giacalone | May 1, 2011

Lawrence and the Pear Tree

  Yesterday afternoon (Saturday, April 30), I noticed for the very first time that the tall thin tree behind Lawrence the Indian had lovely, white flowering blossoms in the Spring.  I asked a few of the most peripatetic of my Stockade neighbors, and none could recall seeing the white blossoms before.  Naturally, the sight needed to be captured digitally.

– click on the photo above for a larger version –

In the Slideshow below, you’ll see that the amount and angle of sunlight can make a significant difference, in photos taken at 6 PM on Saturday and at 7 AM and 3 PM today, Sunday, May 1, 2011.   The always-informative Sylvie Briber suggested the tree looked like a Bradford Pear tree, and my original research seemed to confirm that fact. [But, see below — it is apparently a Redspire pear tree.]

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If your powers of observation are better than mine, and you can give us information about Lawrence’s pear tree, please leave a comment or send me an email.

follow-up (June 10, 2011): It’s a Redspire pear tree. In a Comment submitted today (see below), Stan Hickok wrote that he is a ReTree Schenectady volunteer and, working closely with Susanna Sherwood and the Garden Club, initiated a ReTree program to replace Stockade trees.   Stan informs us that the tree featured in this posting was planted in 2001 and is in fact not a Bradford pear, but a Redspire pear tree.  Like the Bradford, it is in the callery family of pear trees.  See my reply to Stan for more information about the Redspire, which some observers say has many of the same problems as the Bradford.  For example, see “Callery Pears Can Cause Problems” (University of Illinois Extension, Feb. 23, 2005).

p.s.  Despite its beautiful Spring blossoms and spectacular Fall colors, I was surprised to discover that the Bradford Pear tree  (which does not bear fruit) has many detractors. as one critic at the Alabama Coop Extension explains:

For despite all the beauty they lend to thousands of landscapes throughout the region, the trees are plagued with one fatal flaw: due to their combination of vigorous growth, weak wood and poor branch structure, they often begin falling apart after only 20 years.

Another expert estimates that the trees only have an average lifespan of 15 years, and noted that they are especially susceptible to ice and snow damage.  For a detailed article, read, “Bradford Pear Tree (To plant or not to plant),” by Deb Magnes at the Dave’s Garden website.


  1. These trees were planted along front street around the same time several years ago by Re-tree schenectady to replace older larger trees that were removed. As the article states, they have shallow root systems and that is why Re-tree planted them. One, located on the corner of north and front may have been hit by a plow or truck and split and was eventually completely ruined. They were originally very thin, “sticks” as carl strock has described them, but they seem to have filled out pretty good and are providing much more shade than the first few years.

    • Thanks for the information, Bob. I’ll have to look for similar trees and see how they are doing. They seem a bit too narrow to give shade to anyone or anything not right under or beside them, but I hope they do spread a bit. The pieces about the pros and cons of Bradford pear trees help me understand why I’ve heard that the ornamental replacement trees have a very short lifespan. I hope they will last a lot longer than expected.

  2. I am the volunteer with ReTree Schenectady who initiated a program to replace the many trees in the Stockade lost over a number of years. I worked closely with Susanna Sherwood and the Garden Club
    The first planting was in 2001 and included 12 pears along Front St. and the one in the pictures on N. Ferry. We do not plant the Bradford which is one variety of species commonly called a callery pear. The variety in the picture is a Redspire. The 3:00PM picture includes a couple of the others on the left edge

    • Stan, Thank you very much for this information. I like having my facts right and will do some editing.
      The Redspire is a beautiful tree.

      I just did some quick Googling and see that the Redspire callery pear tree appears to have many of the same problems as the Bradford — especially branch breakage. However, the trees you planted a decade ago appear to be doing well so far. I hope they stay healthy and live past their average life expectancy of 25 years.

      Those who want to know more about callery pear trees should see “Callery Pears Can Cause Problems” (University of Illinois Extension, Feb. 23, 2005), and “Redspire Pear Reconsidered” (Garden Walk, Garden Talk: Gardening in Niagara Falls, May 9, 2011)

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