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Identifying Ornamental Pear Trees

Ornamental pear varieties such as Bradford and its close relatives, the aristocrat, chanticleer and Cleveland pear trees, have small, hard fruits unlike the big green or golden pears produced by fruiting pear trees used for eating. The small brown fruits of ornamental pears are eaten by birds and are eagerly consumed as they ferment after a killing frost. Ornamental pear trees are used in landscaping as a small decorative or specimen tree. They are also distinguished by a profusion of white flowers in the spring and their distinct rounded shape as they mature.

Look at the difference in the shape between an ornamental pear tree and a fruiting pear tree. The ornamental pear tree has a distinct rounded shape as it matures. In the winter, you can easily see that the ornamental pear tree has several distinct leaders with a multitude of small, weak branches growing upward from each of the leaders.

Smell the blossoms of the pear tree you are identifying if the tree is blooming. The blossoms of an ornamental pear tree, such as the Bradford pear, have an odor that may smell like fish to some people. The blooms of a fruiting pear tree have no distinctive odor.

Look for any fruit on the tree. An ornamental pear tree will have no fruit or small brown fruit produced after the bloom period. A fruiting pear tree will at least have a small or very light fruit load of rounded or pear-shaped fruit, even with no pollinator present.

Compare the leaves of the ornamental pear tree with that of a fruiting pear tree. They are very similar, except the edges of the leaves of the ornamental pear tree are more toothed or ridged than the leaves of a fruiting pear tree. The leaves of a fruiting pear tree have smoother edges.

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