DALLAS -- They are everywhere this week. Beautiful white blooms sprouting out of trees, but don't be fooled by this short-term sight. Many say the tree that's now blooming is, in fact, the worst tree in the world.
Bradford Pear trees are prolific, but their spring blooms also bring out a chorus of committed haters. "We don't have any Bradford Pears here," said Dave Forehand, the vice president of gardens at the Dallas Arboretum.
Forehand is a person who loves plants, but even he has no love for the dreaded Bradford. "No! Cause I like success, and this tree is prone with troubles," he said.
What kind of troubles? Well, for one, they're an invasive variety that hurts other pear species and other native plants. They also are known for their foul smell, which many say smells like rotten fish. They don't even produce pears. And worst of all? Their brittle branches and strange growing structure make them a big hazard.
"It's a tree that's notorious for breaking apart in a windstorm," said Forehand. "Ice storms? Almost guaranteed to split."
Online, the Bradford-hatred runs deep. Southern Living has declared their animosity, and some authors even call for owners to cut the trees down.
Forehand stops short of suggesting that owners take them down, though he said many municipalities now ban the Bradford because of its problems. He suggests that if someone wants a flowering pear tree, they turn to types that actually produce pears, like the Kieffer. The Arboretum grows several of them at their new edible display garden, A Tasteful Place.
Why do we have so many of these hated trees? Bradfords are an Asian pear varietal that was introduced in the 1960s and quickly became popular for their beauty. They were supposed to be sterile, but they have found a way to crossbreed with other pear trees. They also became a go-to tree with developers because they are relatively inexpensive and fast-growing.
So enjoy the beauty of the Bradford while it lasts. The blooms will be gone in ten days, but the problems will hang around forever.