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I have a couple Bradford Pear trees that were 10 years old when damaged by a wind storm four years ago. They were cut off a couple inches above the ground and over the ensuing years numerous water sprouts grew from the sides of the stumps.
I have noticed that these sprouts now contain thorns. Some are an inch long.
I was wondering how this came to be. Were the pears in initially grafted on a thorny stock root?
I will appreciate your answer.

I have seen quite wicked thorns on several commonly grown varieties of pears, even up in the crown of the tree; unfortunately, in my pruning career, in most cases the identity of the tree is long lost, so I have no idea if these are Bradfords.

Pears are grafted onto tough stock so the suckers that you describe are most likely the root stock. I’ve been a little shocked at how much these thorns hurt – my theory is that they actually have barbs on like a fish hook.

It’s amazing too that the roots of these old trees can still live, even after the tree has been cut down – talk about survival of the fittest!