Selected in landscaping for its profusion of fragrant, white flowers, the ornamental pear is part of the Rosaceae family and is an evergreen shrub or tree. These trees are not particular about soil but do require regular watering and full sun. USDA growing zones vary by species.
There are seven different types of trees in this species, all of which produce a profusion of flowers and grow to at least 30 feet tall. This species produces colorful, oval leaves that begin as dark green and turn to red-purple in the fall, according to the 1997 Sunset National Garden Book. Blooms appear early in the season and can be damaged by frost. The tree produces an inedible fruit that is small and round. This tree is hardy in USDA Zones 5-8 and grow to 50 feet high and 40 feet wide, according to MagnoliaGardenNursery.com
Also known as an evergreen pear, this variety is deciduous in the coldest zones. If untrained, this variety will grow as a shrub, but can be trained to become a small tree with multiple trunks that will grow up to 30 feet. Leaves are a glossy, deep green, and blooms are white clusters that appear in late winter and early spring. A small, round inedible fruit also appears. Once established, this tree or shrub needs little pruning, in fact, the 1997 Sunset National Garden Book discourages pruning as it inhibits flowering. This tree is hardy in USDA Zones 8a-9b.
Also known as the Sand or Japanese Sand Pear, this variety can grow to 40 tall and is hardy in USDA Zones 5a-8b. The Japanese Pear is similar to the more traditional fruiting pear and the small fruit it produces is edible and popular in Japan. Known as an Asian pear, the fruit is crisp like an apple. Leaves on this tree are glossy and thick and can turn a brilliant orange or red-purple in the fall.
Known as the Weeping Willow-Leafed Pear, this distinct variety can grow to 25 feet tall and has long, drooping limbs with small, silver-gray leaves. The tree loses all of its leaves in the winter and white blooms appear in early spring as leaves sprout. The 1997 Sunset National Garden Book states that the fruit on this tree is "insignificant" and that it thrives in cooler climates. This tree is hardy in USDA Zones 4-7.
According to both the 1997 Sunset National Garden Book and the Oregon State University Extension Guide to Disease Control, most ornamental pears are prone to fire blight, with the exception of the Sand Pear. Fire blight is a bacteria that may be spread by insects, pruning tools, or rain. The disease shows itself as cankers on the tree. Any diseased areas of the tree should be removed and fire blight may be controlled by bacteria sprays.