About Flowering Pear Trees

Overview

The flowering pear tree (Pyrus calleryana) is one of the earliest and most beautiful spring-blooming trees. It adds ornamental value to any landscape, and many cities plant them along curbs as part of neighborhood decor. In fact, the tree has a high tolerance to tough, city conditions such as pollution. Sometimes called the ornamental pear, the flowering pear tree is a deciduous tree that requires very little attention and is highly recommended by nurseries across the nation.

Identification

Flowering pear trees are popular as decorative trees on streets and also in backyards as they attract a variety of birds. They are easy to maintain and are pollution and drought resistant. Most varieties of the white-flowering trees have rough bark and an oval or pyramidal shape which fits well in tight spaces. The original species can grow up to a height of 50 feet, but gardeners can obtain a variety of shorter cultivars reaching a height of about 35 feet. The flowering pear produces a profusion of white blooms in the spring and a dazzle of red and orange leaves in the fall.

Time Frame

The flowering pear tree is a beautiful addition to the garden space. The tree grows best when planted in the spring. Tiny white flowers appear in March or April and, like snow, gently fall on green lawns. Glossy, green leaves turn yellow to scarlet red in October and November, creating a blazing effect on some trees. Pruning generally takes place during winter and late fall, or in the spring after the tree stops blooming. An established nursery can advise the best time to prune for different cultivars. Fertilization can take place until the leaves shed for the winter.

Types

While the fruiting pear tree (Pyrus communis) is cultivated for its delicious, juicy fruits, the flowering pear is basically used for ornamental purposes. Some of the most popular types of flowering pear trees include the Aristocrat, Autumn Blaze, Bradford, Chanticleer and Frontier. The Bradford pear is the oldest of the flowering pears and was quite popular in the 1900's. The Aristocrat tree's sturdy, attractive frame makes it appealing to homeowners concerned about winter care. When making a tree selection, soil type as well as availability of sunlight and space should be considered.

History

The common pear is one of the earliest cultivated fruit trees, originating in the Middle East. Its popularity grew and the tree was soon cultivated into different varieties according to habitat. The fruiting and ornamental varieties possess similar heritage in temperate regions of the Old World. The fruiting tree was first introduced to Western horticulture in 1908. The seedling, later known as Pyrus calleryana "Bradford," was brought from Nanking in 1919. The USDA introduced the Bradford variety commercially in 1963. Since the introduction of the Bradford tree, several cultivars of flowering pear have been adapted and grown in the United States and other countries.

Prevention/Solution

Ornamental pear trees are generally very easy to care for. They do, however, pose some concern for gardeners and homeowners. Pit fruit trees, such as the pear tree, cannot tolerate excessive water. Proper draining around the base of the tree is necessary to keep the water flowing away from the tree. Pear trees suffer from fewer disease and pest problems than most other fruit trees, but they are susceptible to insect (specifically the psylla) and mold infection. Proper adjustments in pruning and fertilizing can alleviate both problems. A combination of physics and plant structure make Bradford trees very susceptible to wind and ice damage. Gardeners and homeowners are also turned off by the rank odor of the Bradford's flowers and the mess created by its fruit. The Veyna flowering pear, a new, distinct ornamental variety, has been declared a viable alternative.

Keywords: flowering pear trees, Bradford Trees, ornamental trees

About this Author

Loraine Degraff has been a writer and educator since 1999. She recently began focusing on topics pertaining to health and environmental issues. She is published in "Healthy Life Place" and "Humdinger" and also writes for Suite101. Degraff holds a Master's degree in Communications Design from Pratt Institute.