Pear trees, along with apple trees, belong to the rose family and have their origins in Europe and Asia. Fire blight is an issue with growing pear trees, though, so look for varieties that are not susceptible to this disease---especially in areas where fire blight is common. When purchasing a pear tree, pick one that is 2 to 4 feet tall, with a trunk at least 1/2 inch in diameter. Larger pear trees are less desirable since they lose root mass when dug up in the nursery.
Chanticleer pear (Pyrus calleryana Chanticleer) grows 40 feet tall and 15 feet wide. This pear tree grows upright in a pyramid shape. It produces dark, glossy green leaves that turn purplish-red in the fall. In March, clusters of 1-inch white flowers appear. The fruit is small, but edible. The Chanticleer adapts well to many different types of soil. It is tolerant of drought, heat and pollution. One bonus is that it is fire-blight resistant. The Chanticleer pear tree is used as a landscape tree.
Common pear (Pyrus communis) grows 30 to 60 feet tall. The leaves are 1 to 4 inches long. They are shiny and green on top, while dull and pale-green on the bottom. The flowers appear before the leaves in the spring. The blossoms are 1/2 to 3/4 inches across, and the pears are 3 to 4 inches across and produced in abundant amounts. The twigs are slightly hairy and are glossy brown to reddish-brown. Growth is upright and conical. The common pear tree is the possible parent of many modern varieties.
Callery pear (Pyrus calleryana) reaches 30 to 40 feet in height and spreads 10 to 13 feet wide. In April and early May, 3-inch white flowers appear. Callery pear is one of the first showy trees to flower. The leaves are glossy and turn to red, purple and orange in the fall. The branches are tipped with a thorn. The fruit is only 1/2 inch in size and olive-brown with white flecks. The Callery pear is fire-blight resistant---and considered invasive since it is spread throughout the landscape by birds and animals eating the fruit.