Are you a Bradford pear tree?

1-DSC06022Bradford Pear (Callery pear) is a species of pear tree native to China. It is a deciduous tree with a cone-shaped to rounded crown. The flowers are produced in early spring before leaves expand fully. They are white, with five petals, and about 0.79 to 1.2 inches in diameter. Flowers have a sickly-sweet smell. The fruit is small, hard, and almost woody until softened by frost. Humans don’t eat them, but birds consume them enthusiastically.

Bradford pear trees are an invasive species in some areas of North America, pushing out native American plants and trees. On the Bradford pear tree, limbs grow upward from the main branch at an angle so narrow that hard winds break limbs from the tree. Rarely, will you see an intact mature Bradford pear tree.

Today, many municipalities and individuals who want the spring-time beauty of a flowering Bradford tree buy and plant the Cleveland Select pear tree. The tree in the picture is a Cleveland Select.  Cleveland pear tree is a genetically-improved variety that grows in a uniform globe shape. The Cleveland Select Pear reaches a height of 30 feet. The canopy is about 15 feet wide. It produces no fruit, tolerates urban conditions, and heavy clay soils.

Both cultivars have the same genus and species name (Pyrus calleryana), but the Cleveland select tree is strong because of its limb structure. It withstands ice on branches and/or strong winds without breaking or coming apart because limbs grow at an optimal (45-60 degrees) – rather than a too narrow (5-15 degrees) – angle from the trunk or central leader (limb) of the tree.

When something is optimal, it is best, ideal, finest, or most advantageous. The opposite of optimal is worst. On a continuum between optimal and worst Christ-like behavior, there are a lot of points, i.e., a lot of distance between optimal and worst. Unlike the Cleveland Select pear tree limbs that are strong because they are at a larger angle from the tree’s main leader, Christians aren’t stronger when there is a lot of distance between them and God. Closeness counts in a relationship with God.

Reflection: If you want to be strong and not snap off when ice or a strong wind hits you, what are some actions you can take to stay close to Christ? Do you go to church regularly?

I love Bible plants along with their symbolism. If you want to learn more about them, read my two books: 1) Rooted in God and 2) God as a Gardener. You can purchase them from my website: Carolyn Roth Ministry at

Copyright: January 18, 2015, Carolyn A. Roth. All rights reserved.


3 responses to “Are you a Bradford pear tree?

  1. I can personally attest that squirrels also go wild over the fruit of the Bradford Pear!

    How can a person stay close to Christ? Going to church regularly is important, but is not always proof that a person is close to Christ, as some people attend a church not so much for closeness to God, but for closeness to business contacts, etc. I think that remaining true to your faith, no matter what life brings you, keeps you close to Christ. Prayer is important. Reading the Scriptures on a daily basis is important. Try to fit in a weekly Bible study, whether it’s at your church, your home, someone else’s home or even online. Surround yourself with people that you know are Christians so that you’re not drawn into some other belief system which pushes you away from Christ. If you don’t remain constant in your contact with Christ, on a daily basis, it’s easy for your belief in your reliance on Him to wane, making it that much easier for you to be blown in different directions, and further away from God, when tragic events or unexpected circumstances hit you.

  2. This reminds me of a maple we have in our yard- 1 of 6 or 7. About every 2 years the electric company prunes 1 of the maples that sits by the road under the power line. I can see it from my favorite chair in the house. Because of its pruning, it seldom looses a limb when the winds blow. The limbs are very compact so that even in the winter, you don’t see much sky in between the limbs. It is so much prettier and sturdier than the other maples and all its limbs seem to reach up in praise to God. It is a wonderful lesson how God’s pruning in our lives yields a much better person than left unpruned.

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