The flowering pear (Pyrus calleryana), also referred to as callery pear, is an ornamental tree from the rose family. Flowering pear trees are grown for their blooms. The best known variety within the group is the Bradford pear, as cited by Jacqueline Heriteau in "Complete Trees, Shrubs & Hedges." The trees are widely used as shade trees in parks and gardens. Flowering pear trees have specific growth traits, including fruit production.
Flower and Fruit
Flowering pear trees are grown for their clusters of white, spring-blooming flowers that often appear along with the foliage. The flowers are followed by ½ inch, inedible fruit resembling little knobs. The fruit, referred to as pomes, is green but gradually turns dark brown to black. Flowering pear tree fruit is hardly visible within the dense tree foliage but attracts birds. The fruit has no ornamental value.
Size and Form
The flowering pear tree has a mature height of 30 to 50 feet with a 20- to 35-foot spread. The tree has a moderate growth rate and assumes a pyramidal form with large, upright branches. The straight, columnar shape of younger trees gradually spreads with age, turning broadly oval in form. Younger trees have a rapid growth rate.
The leaves are highly glossy and medium-green to dark-green in color. The foliage shape ranges between ovate to broadly ovate with serrated edges. The petioles are about 2 inches long. The foliage maintains its color into December and has variable autumn colors depending on the cultivar. Fall colors range in a combination of shades of purple, orange, yellow, red and green. Each leaf is 2 to 3 inches long and starts growing back in early spring.
Plant the tree in areas of full sun for best growth and water the newly planted trees regularly. Once established, the tree is moderately drought tolerant. The lowering pear tree is hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture Plant Hardiness Zones 5 to 9. A variety of cultivars is easily propagated with cuttings. The tree prefers a well-drained, moist soil but adapts well to clay and poorly fertile soil. The flowering pear tree responds well to urban stresses including pollution and growing in constrained areas.