Friends Don’t Let Friends Plant Bradford Pear
Like you, I get a daily barrage of unwanted emails from, it seems, every website I have ever visited to make any kind of purchase. Approximately 99% of these missives get deleted unopened. Recently, I got an email newsletter from Angie’s List that was about to share the fate of all that had come before it until my eye caught the title: “5 Types of Trees to Avoid”.
Curious to see what sort of horticultural advice was coming out of Angie’s List, I opened the email. Here are the 5 on Angie’s arboreal blacklist:
- Black Walnut (Juglans nigra), because of how it poisons other plants with the toxin juglone. There was an enormous old Black Walnut in our neighbor’s yard when we lived in Wisconsin, half my backyard was under its canopy, and I fantasized about girdling it in the middle of the night. So I have no quarrel with Angie on this one.
- Bradford Pear (Pyrus calleryana), because of its propensity for broken branches. I might add that it can spread aggressively, so no argument here.
- Ash trees (Fraxinus sp.). This one seems pretty obvious – Emerald Ash Borer, duh.
- Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba). Ginkgos are not among my favorite trees, but they do have spectacular autumn color. I wouldn’t put them near the top of a public enemies list. Yes, the female trees have messy, yucky fruits – but there are male varieties available. None of the Ginkgos in our neighborhood seem to bear any fruit.
- Sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua). The spiky gumball fruits are incredibly annoying – and painful if you step on one barefoot. Away from foot traffic, though, it’s a pretty nice native North American tree with splendid fall color. In this case, again, I think Angie is being a little unfair.
Reading this article made me think of trees that I would warn friends away from. There were three that quickly came to mind.
- Norway Maple (Acer platanoides). A plague upon so many American suburbs, where they are overused as street trees. Norway Maples are invasive, they have shade so dense it’s almost suffocating, plus they have nasty, greedy surface roots. Shudder.
- Siberian Elm (Ulmus parvifolia). There was one of these in our back garden when we moved here. It attracts lots of insects, so the birds like it. However, it’s quite invasive and it’s always dropping large, heavy branches on whatever lies below – I fear that some day it might give me a fatal whack on the noggin while I’m sitting on the patio, lost in thought.
- Eastern Cottonwood (Populus deltoides). OK, I realize that this is a tree with significant wildlife value. It’s just that I can’t STAND that cottonwood fluff that always falls in time to mess up the Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) flowers. Call me shallow, go ahead.
Oh, and I would stay away from ents.
Are there any trees you would advise friends to stay away from?