While Bradford pears are generally disease resistant, the upright angle of the tree's branches makes it susceptible to limb loss. Bradford pears cross-pollinate with other pears to create an invasive species. When in bloom, the trees produce a smell similar to dead fish. Owners must replace the trees after about 15 years.
The Bradford pear is originally from China. Producers initially sold this thornless pear as a sterile hybrid. It produces a multitude of white blossoms and very small fruit. Later discoveries revealed its ability to pollinate native pears, producing fruit. Birds consume the fruit and distribute the seeds, which grow into a thorny wild pear thicket that chokes out the native species.
Bradford pears have a narrow shadow with limbs that grow near the trunk. However, the strongest branches on trees grow at an almost right angle. Because the Bradford limbs do not follow the perpendicular pattern, the tree is susceptible to damage from storms. Wind or the weight of snow and ice often causes the limbs to break, sometimes splitting the tree in half.
Many cities prohibit Bradford pears due to the problems they bring. They encourage landscapers and homeowners to choose other species that do not have the same issues.