It’s what appears to be an early spring here in north Alabama, and while most trees are still bare, new green is everywhere. The daffodils have bloomed and are already on their way out, crocus blossoms can be spotted here and there, and even some early wildflowers have made their appearance. Despite all that, we’re still in what is only the first week of March. The gorgeous pink that will appear with the advent of the redbuds and cherries is still in the (albeit near) future, and the iconic magnolias have yet to let their flowers show.
But the Bradford pears…oh, the Bradford pears.
Bradford pear trees (a cultivar of the Callery pear) command attention throughout the southeastern United States, just as they soon will in regions further north. Their white flowers, dense upon the branch, cause them to stand out on hillsides so as to be seen from an incredible distance. These trees are not unlike the regional crepe myrtle in that many people love them (their flowers are striking; they’re easy and fast to grow) and an equal number of people loathe them. Aside from their many flaws as a tree (they’re easily damaged by wind; their dense foliage prevents much from growing beneath them), they’re an invasive species that spreads quickly.
Why, you might be asking, are they a slice of my life?
Flowers have one primary purpose: Seeds. Lots of flowers; lots of seeds. Lots of flowers; lots of p o l l e n.
Okay, I’m a science teacher, and I understand that Bradford pear trees are primarily pollinated by insects. That means, amongst other things, that their pollen is typically not an airborne nuisance. I understand that my allergies (argh!) are probably not caused by Bradford pear trees.
I don’t care. It’s irrational, but I don’t care. I can’t breathe, my eyes have been puffy for a week, and I’m buying facial tissue by the truckload. Allergy meds are my friends.
Can’t I just direct my ire at the most visible target?
No, I really shouldn’t.
Honestly, they are a terrible tree, but beautiful in their own way.
Besides, it gets worse: Just wait for pine pollen.