What should you plant instead of a Bradford pear? “Anything” is what most landscape designers and horticulturists might exclaim. Once loved as a mid-size tree that kept a rounded shape and wowed with early spring flowers, the Bradford pear has proven to be susceptible to splitting into matchsticks and wreaking havoc. If half a tree landing on your car’s hood is not insulting enough, Bradford pears also spawn invasive offspring that are covering open pastures and roadside shoulders by the mile. These trees also produce wicked thorns and fragrance that some say smells like rotten fish. Convinced?

There are many options better suited for your Alabama landscape, if we seek to match the characteristics of a medium size at maturity, beautiful blooms, and summer shade. Take this list to your neighborhood garden center for help finding the right tree. 

  • Chalk Bark or Chalk Maple –Acer luecoderme
  • Fringe Tree – Chionanthus virginicus (our native Grancy Graybeard), Chionanthus retusus (Chinese Fringe Tree)
  • Dogwood – Cornus florida ‘Rubra’ (Red Flowering Dogwood), Cornus florida ‘Rosea’ (Pink Flowering Dogwood)
  • Kousa Dogwood – Cornus kousa
  • Serviceberry – Amelanchier
  • Redbud – Cercis canadensis ‘Hearts of Gold,’ Cercis canadensis ‘Merlot’
  • Vitex – Vitex agnus castus ‘Shoal Creek’
  • Cherry – Prunus ‘Okame,’ Prunus ‘Yoshino’
  • Japanese Persimmon – Diospyros kaki (‘Fuyu’ is one popular variety)

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