Ornamental or flowering pear trees provide visual interest in the spring and fall months, and attract birds, bees and other wildlife with their flowers and fruits (inedible to humans). While all ornamental pears have white blossoms and bright fall foliage, cultivars vary by height, cold tolerance, branch strength and smoothness of wood.
The most well-known ornamental pear tree, the Bradford pear grows in full sun in USDA hardiness zones 5 to 9. This tree features white blossoms in the springtime and yellow or red foliage in the fall months. Bradford pear flowers have an unpleasant smell. The tree can reach 30 to 50 feet in height and features symmetrical, even branching.
Another cultivar of Callery pear, Chanticleer is a more compact tree than Bradford, reaching 25 to 35 feet in height. The tree has stronger branches that are less apt to break than other cultivars of ornamental pear, making it a good choice for homeowners. Chanticleer pear is suited to USDA hardiness zones 5 to 8. This type of ornamental pear is sometimes called Cleveland Select.
Aristocrat ornamental pear trees have smooth branches that grow outward, rather than upright. This results in a tall, oval-shaped tree that averages 24 to 40 feet in height and is less susceptible to wind damage than more spreading trees. The trees grow in USDA hardiness zones 5 to 9 in full sun. The glossy dark green leaves turn deep red in autumn.
Autumn Blaze ornamental pear gets its name from the vibrant reddish-purple color its leaves turn in the fall. This tree has thorny branches. The Autumn Blaze tree is more cold hardy than other types of ornamental pear and is suited to hardiness zones 4 to 8. The tree reaches 30 to 35 feet in height and grows in a pyramidal shape.