Bradford pear


Brad·​ford pear ˈbrad-fərd- How to pronounce Bradford pear (audio)
variants or less commonly Bradford Callery pear or Bradford callery pear
: a widely planted ornamental deciduous tree that is a thornless and fruitless cultivar of the Callery pear (Pyrus calleryana)
The major problem with Bradford pears is that its upright habit in youth produces a weak branch structure. Branches may split off as the tree ages. The Times-Picayune (New Orleans, Louisiana)

Word History


after Frederick Charles Bradford †1950 U.S. horticulturist

Note: In regard to Frederick Bradford (1887-1950) and the introduction of the pear, see W. E. Whitehouse, et al., "A New Flowering Shade Tree—The 'Bradford' Pear," American Horticultural Magazine, vol. 42 (1963), p. 151: "This ornamental pear honors the late F.C. Bradford, formerly horticulturist in charge of the U.S. Plant Introduction Station, Glenn Dale, Maryland, and was released recently by the Crops Research Division [of the U.S. Department of Agriculture] for trial as a shade tree." There is further detail in "U.S. Plant Introduction Station, Glenn Dale, MD," Maryland Historical Trust Inventory Form PG 70-54 (prepared in 1996; available from "One of the events that generated immense activity for the Glenn Dale station in its later history was the release of the Bradford pear in 1960. The tree was named for Frederick Bradford, the Superintendent of the station prior to J.L. Creech, by Dr. J.L. Creech and Dr. Whitehouse (Whitehouse was incidentally Bradford's brother-in-law). Bradford, who had lived in Cottage #1 (Building 32), had died at the station" (Section 8, page 40). On the role of J.L. Creech, see Angela L. Todd, "Biographies of the agricultural explorers of the USDA's Bureau of Plant Industry, 1897-1955: Part I, A-F," Huntia, vol. 14, no. 1 (2009), pp. 73-75.

First Known Use

1964, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of Bradford pear was in 1964

Dictionary Entries Near Bradford pear

Cite this Entry

“Bradford pear.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Nov. 2022.

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