Once upon a thyme, when I was smallish and going through social phobia for reasons I won't mention here, I took to roaming the neighborhood shortly before sunrise. I'd traipse home in time for the drive to school. I loved how the early morning light made everything seem otherworldly. I got to meet elderly neighbors puttering around their lawns and flowers. It was almost always a good learning experience.
Trees were my second favorite thing in the entire world. William Morris (and later, JRR Tolkien) sparked this interest. I was (and still am) in love with Mirkwood's flora and fauna.
Morris's Goths inhabit an area called the Mark on a river in the forest of Mirkwood, divided into the Upper-mark, the Mid-mark and the Nether-mark. They worship their gods Odin and Tyr by sacrificing horses, and rely on seers who foretell the future and serve as psychic news-gatherers.*
A Tale of the House of the Wolfings and All the Kindreds of the Mark went missing from the public library one summer day. (It didn't return until October, 1988.) And Tolkien? My father would read a chapter a night to my mother ergo I wanted to read his books too. Because trees. I was in first grade. I shit you not.
This brings us to the present day. I'm sure I annoy the fuck out of people whenever I stop to pluck leaves and/or fruit/flowers off trees that I had never encountered before. "I must know all!!!", as plucky little Tobias Domzalski would say.
I couldn't help but to grin as the trees in the JC Penny parking lot. They (or the mall) chose to dot the area with Callery pear, likely" Bradfords".
The species hails from China and is named after the man that introduced them to Europe, Joseph-Marie Callery. It's not wonder they spread like the plague. People wanted them for their parks, large gardens, and outdoor gathering places. The trees are beautiful, hardy, beloved, and withstand a lot of shit... if you don't plant the "Bradford" cultivars. Sadly, the Bradford is the most prolific.
To my knowledge, Bradford leaves and bark are not poisonous to pets. The berries are another matter. The seeds are considered mildly poisonous to humans and pets. When ground between the teeth and ingested in large quantities, glycosides in the seeds mix with stomach acid to form cyanide. So yeah, let's not plant this thing where bork-borks or kids can access them.
And I need to point out that the white flowers are prettier than they smell. If you're planning to put this thing in a prominent position near your front door or sidewalk, be prepared for all the negative comments about the fishy semen smell coming from your yard.
The weather isn't kind to Bradfords. Trees topple in strong winds.
Keep all this in mind should you want a flowering tree in your landscape.
2 OUT OF 5 CUPS
* Wikipedia contributors. "The House of the Wolfings." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 9 May. 2021. Web. 18 Nov. 2021.
Tree and berry photos taken 11/13/2021. 40.3659015°N, -80.6711879°W