Monday, December 1, 2008

Mystery Tree

It's planted about 40' from our front door.

It is about as tall as our two-story house.

It has the pleasing shape you see here. (Photo taken from upstairs window.)

As of December 1, it has still not dropped its leaves.

Color was medium green all summer, now is green shading to burgundy/brown.

The leaves are sturdy, waxy/leathery, and the buds for next year are slightly fuzzy and already well-developed. They alternate on the branch. They are very slightly serrated at the margins.

I do not know about flowers and fruits.

Something in the poplar family?

Online tree ID tools and traditional field guides have not yielded an answer.

I assume it is not native, was planted as an ornamental.



  1. I *think* it's a Bradford Pear.


  2. I agree with PBurns, the leaves are very Bradford pear-ish. The ones outside my workplace along the city streets still have their leaves too.

  3. At first I thought maybe a magnolia, one of the shrubby types such as Stellata, but the shape is a little too urn-like.

    Then I thought maybe a redbud but again, the shape isn't open and high enough for a plant that size.

    The Bradford pear sounds most likely, or it could be an unpruned European Hornbeam.

    Can't wait to see what happens in the spring!

  4. Definitely a pear. Nice white flowers in spring.

  5. I see everyone has beat me to it! :-) Bradford Pear trees are very common down here (Texas).

    You should get lovely white blossoms in the spring. No pears, though :-(

  6. I think Bradford pears are popular everywhere...they're THE tree to line sidewalks and streets up here in Ohio. Though some dolt in the '60s though sweetgum trees would be a good idea in my neighborhood...not so much! Still have a bunch of those hanging around, and they're bad ALL summer.

    Personally I think the little white flowers on the faux-pears stink, especially when all the trees bloom at once. Pretty, but not quite as smelly-good as the flower garden.

  7. Was I waffling much? Like to keep options open - should have been a politician.

  8. sorry all...neophyte trying to figure out how to send heather a personal i sign in somehow? or click something that will allow me to send a message?? thx. have some important questions re: lyme disease....


  9. Not a fan of Bradford Pears -- no fruit, the flowers aren't that great and when they get large, the branches tend to shatter in high winds. The latter reason is why they are no longer being planted as a street tree.

    If you want flowers, a native redbud has beautiful ones and will feed your beneficials. If you want fruit, there are so many options and now is the time to browse catalogs and figure out what you want.

    Not a plant I'd keep, ESPECIALLY in the country, but I'm probably more lentient about my dogs and more demanding of my plants than most of the readers around here! ;-)


  10. I agree that it's probably a Bradford pear. They are known for their very fast growth, so are planted a lot in new subdivisions and on streets.

    I agree that they are not the greatest...if you don't prune them often, they split right down the middle.

    The leaves can get a pretty burgundy color, though.

    Around here, developers love to plant them to "replace" (ha, ha) all the old hardwoods they cleared off the land for the crappy subdivisions they build.

  11. Okay, Bradford pear it is. Thanks guys!

    I have been vaguely aware of this species only since this fall, when I noticed tiny pear-ish fruits on a parking lot tree at the Home Depot. I've never had much interest in ornamental plants -- very much a vegetable and fruit grower. Our landscaping at the old place was almost all edible -- blueberry bushes, strawberries for groundcover, heirloom fruit trees, rhubarb in the front beds, etc.

    The one in the yard skunked me because there are no little fruits, and because it is much larger than the street trees I've seen. Either it never fruited this year, or the birds have already got them. It apparently flowered between the date in April when we did the home inspection, and the end of May, when we closed on the house. Photos from April show a bare tree; those in May show leaves, no flowers.

    I've been reading about this species' propensity to go snap crackle pop in the wind. The NW wind whips over the hayfield pretty briskly in winter here. Either this largish tree is unusually strong, the slope provides more protection than I thought, or we're in for a sylvan catastrophe one of these days. The maple just uphill of it had a big branch snap off and wedge during Ike.

    Nevertheless, I'll leave it be until something happens to it. It's attractive, the hummingbirds like it a lot and may have nested in it this year, and I have plenty of acreage to plant my orchard.

  12. Kat, because you are not logged in, I can't reply to you, and I'm not sure which Kat I know (if any) you are!

    Send me an email at houlahan AT zoominternet DOT net.

    I've been cautioned that 'bots will harvest regular linked email addresses on blogs, so it's expressed as above. You know what to do.

  13. That tree is a "Basswood", Tilia Americana.


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