Autumn blaze pear tree

Flowering Pear Tree

Flowering Pear Description

This deciduous flowering tree grows to about 20 feet in height that will grow in USDA zones 5-9. When young this tree shoots upward in a conical shape, but as it ages it gains a canopy. Older trees may be 35 feet wide. In the early spring, the tree erupts with five-petaled white flowers. Each flower is about an inch in diameter.

The scent of the flowering pear is supposed to be memorable, but not pleasant. The odor has been compared to rotting fish or chlorine.

After it blossoms, the tree flushes out dark green oval leaves. They are shiny, three inches long, and smooth in texture with slightly paler undersides. These leaves remain green until late in the autumn when the tree once again becomes the centerpiece of a yard landscape.

If not taken by frost first, the leaves will change to brilliant colors of yellow, orange, purple, pink, and red. Sometimes multiple shades occur on a single leaf.

The small fruits develop late in autumn. They are woody, inedible, and less than an inch in diameter. They hand on the tree until softened by frost and taken by birds. The birds then drop the seed in their excrement which leads to the spreading of this species in non-native regions.

Originally native to China and Korea, not much is known about how the flowering pear or the Callery Pear made it’s way across the old world. In the new world, it’s history is complicated. It had booming success followed by disdain.

In the early 1900s, the USDA paid botanist Frank Meyer to travel the world. He brought many crops to the U.S. including various legumes, fruits, vegetables, and trees. Among them was the Callery Pear.

There is so much to like about this pear tree. It is highly disease resistant, tolerant of various soil types, climate conditions, and not a favorite food among herbivorous wildlife. All of these reasons are why it was received with admiration. It’s a great ornamental plant. The flowering pear was planted throughout North America in yards and parks.

The USDA gave it to two introduction stations. One in Corvallis, Oregon and another in Glenn Dale, Maryland. The Maryland station eventually created the first flowering pear cultivar called the ‘Bradford.’ It was most prominently used as rootstock for grafting European pear varieties.

Grafted trees produce the fruit of the graft while maintaining the disease resistance and hardiness of the rootstock variety. Inevitably a sucker will sprout from a rootstock and grow large enough to flower and produce seed. Birds spread the seed and the Callery Pear is released.

The Callery Pear began invading natural areas, riverbanks, and farmland. Owners of the trees started noticing problems with the growth habits. Bradford pears are famous for upward growing branches that come off the main leaders at narrow angles. These branches split when weighed down by rain or snow, making these trees susceptible to storm damage.

The World Trade Center Survivor Tree

After the World Trade Center collapsed in 2001, a Callery Pear which had once stood on the property was discovered badly damaged but alive among the wreckage. It was removed and transported to a nearby nursery where it recovered.

After its recovery, it was planted back at the memorial park at Ground Zero. It’s known as the Survivor Tree and represents resilience.

Modern Production

Today the Callery Pear still has a controversial place in the yards and parks of North America. In 2005, a cultivar won the “Urban Tree of the Year” Award from The Society Of Municipal Arborists. However, it’s considered invasive in many states and is not recommended for planting.

Planting Flowering Pears

Flowering pears can be planted as ornamental trees in USDA zones 5-8. They are sensitive to extreme cold and may suffer damage if exposed to freezing weather for too long.

They tolerate soils of all types as long as it has adequate drainage. Place the tree in a full sun location and shelter it from prevailing winds for the best results. Space multiple trees 10-20 feet apart depending on if you’d like more of a hedge or row.

Consider a cultivar that has a better branching pattern than the Bradford. Most modern cultivars are not as well known for breaking. Here are a few popular flowering pear tree cultivars.

  • Bradford: 1st cultivar created, beautiful, blight and borer resistant but prone to breakage.
  • Aristocrat: A larger tree at 30 feet tall and 20 feet wide. Less prone to breakage and still resistant.
  • Chanticleer: Tight growing, gorgeous and resistant, less suckering
  • Autumn Blaze: This is a beautiful cultivar known for it’s fiery red autumn display.

Flowering Pear Tree Care

Keep young trees well watered as they become established. A rule of thumb is to give 10 gallons of water per inch of trunk diameter. Adjust for natural precipitation and check the soil before watering to make sure it’s necessary. If it feels damp, then it may not need any water.

Building a ring of mulch around the base will help trap in moisture and prevent the soil from drying out. Avoid touching the trunk of the tree with mulch, pull it a few inches back. Use anything organic like grass clippings, straw or old plant stocks, wood chips, or even shredded newspaper.

Planting flowering pears amidst other fruit trees like apples, cherries, or crabapple trees is beneficial. It helps protect the pear trees from wind and the blossoms draw in pollinator insects.

Beneficial companion plants include nitrogen fixers like Siberian Pea Shrub, Comfrey, Clover, and Autumn Olive. Gardeners can also grow legumes or vegetables around the base of flowering pears.

Pruning is one of the most important aspects of caring for a Callery Pear. Because of their brittle branches and tendency to grow narrow notches, unpruned trees will likely suffer damage at some point.

Prune Callery Pears to a central leader. This means pick one or two main verticle branches to let grow. Most others will be cut out. Remove all branches that come off of the central leader at less than 45-degree angles.

Remove branches that cross over each other or rub together. These are places where weak spots will occur and create vulnerability. Prune for maximum sunlight and airflow into the tree. A well-pruned tree is not only healthier and stronger. It will produce more blossoms in the spring.

Always remove any suckers. Suckers are branches that spurt out of the ground around the base of the tree or out from between a branch and a leader. Suckers are propagational growth. They can be removed and rooted to become new trees that are genetically identical to the parent tree. Suckers around the base of a flowering pear will grow quickly. If left unpruned, they can easily create an impenetrable mass.

Feed flowering pears each spring. You can layer on three to six inches of good compost as a mulch. This will slowly release nutrients as the water pulls it down to the root mass. Or, make a liquid compost tea and water it in. Avoid using high nitrogen fertilizers. These encourage sucker growth and make fruit trees vulnerable to pest damage and disease.

Uses

While the fruit of a flowering pear is inedible the wood is useful. Like all hardwood fruit trees, pear wood is sought after for specialty projects. Callery hardwood is a valuable material for building woodwind instruments. It’s also the most desirable wood for creating woodcuts, or intricate relief wood carvings.

About Flowering Pear Trees

flowering tree image by Anna Baburkina from Fotolia.com

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.

Autumn Blaze Pear Trees – Tips On Caring For Autumn Blaze Pears

Autumn Blaze pear trees may not produce edible fruits, but they are truly ornamental gems. They have a beautiful rounded, spreading habit. In addition, they offer showy flowers in spring, glossy dark green leaves in summer and exceptional autumn color. For more Autumn Blaze information, including tips on how to care for an Autumn Blaze pear, read on.

Autumn Blaze Tree Attributes

Whether you want a shade tree, spring blossoms or a stunning fall display, Autumn Blaze pear trees (Pyrus calleryana ‘Autumn Blaze’) will provide. This is a cultivar of the Callery pear, and shares its best characteristics.

These trees overflow with frothy white flowers in early spring. Their dark leaves provide ample shade in summer before turning brilliant crimson in autumn. These Autumn Blaze tree attributes can also be found in the species plant. But the Callery

pear is also considered invasive in some areas. Autumn Blaze pear trees are much less aggressive.

According to Autumn Blaze information, prior cultivars of the Callery pear required an early freeze to begin showing fall color. In mild areas like Oregon, they matured late and the autumn display was lost. The Autumn Blaze cultivar was developed at Oregon State University in a quest to develop an early maturing, red-leafed Callery pear with better fall color. The task was successful, since Autumn Blaze tree attributes include the best fall color of all of the Callery cultivars.

Caring for Autumn Blaze Pears

If you are wondering how to care for an Autumn Blaze pear, first think about planting it appropriately. You’ll need to find a site large enough to accommodate the tree. At maturity Autumn Blaze grows to 40 feet (12 m.) tall and 30 feet (9 m.) wide.

Caring for Autumn Blaze pears is easiest if you plant the tree in a full sun location. The trees require well-draining soil, but accept sand, loam or even clay.

Autumn Blaze information suggests that these cultivars thrive in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 4 through 7 or 8. Don’t worry about cold weather in these zones. Autumn Blaze is the hardiest cultivar of the Callery pear, hardy to -20 degrees F. (-29 C.).

If you live in an area with windy weather, you’ll be happy to learn that its branches are more solid than most ornamental pear trees. That makes them more wind resistant.

Autumn Blaze Pear

A popular tall accent tree that’s covered in attractive white flowers in spring followed by small inedible fruit, spectacular fall color and a beautiful and consistent oval shape, very ornamental; can be susceptible to fireblight.

Ornamental Attributes

Autumn Blaze Ornamental Pear is blanketed in stunning clusters of white flowers with purple anthers along the branches in mid spring before the leaves. It has dark green foliage throughout the season. The glossy heart-shaped leaves turn an outstanding deep purple in the fall. The fruits are yellow pomes displayed in late summer. The furrowed brown bark is not particularly outstanding.

Landscape Attributes

Autumn Blaze Ornamental Pear is a dense deciduous tree with an upright spreading habit of growth. Its average texture blends into the landscape, but can be balanced by one or two finer or coarser trees or shrubs for an effective composition.

This is a high maintenance tree that will require regular care and upkeep, and is best pruned in late winter once the threat of extreme cold has passed. Gardeners should be aware of the following characteristic(s) that may warrant special consideration:

  • Messy
  • Disease

Autumn Blaze Ornamental Pear is recommended for the following landscape applications:

  • Accent
  • Shade

Plant Characteristics

Autumn Blaze Ornamental Pear will grow to be about 45 feet tall at maturity, with a spread of 30 feet. It has a low canopy with a typical clearance of 5 feet from the ground, and should not be planted underneath power lines. It grows at a fast rate, and under ideal conditions can be expected to live for approximately 30 years.

This tree should only be grown in full sunlight. It prefers to grow in average to moist conditions, and shouldn’t be allowed to dry out. It is not particular as to soil type or pH, and is subject to chlorosis (yellowing) of the leaves in alkaline soils. It is highly tolerant of urban pollution and will even thrive in inner city environments, and will benefit from being planted in a relatively sheltered location.

20160908-17723-SRIndiana Bicentennial torchbearer Rich Gotshall. Scott Roberson / Daily Journal

What started as an attractive addition to suburban Indiana landscapes has turned into a threat to Hoosier forests.

For years, ornamental pear trees, most commonly known as Bradford pears, have been a popular landscaping tree. They were planted because the trees grew quickly and had attractive white blossoms. But the original variety was weak and prone to splitting, especially during storms. So foresters developed stronger cultivars.

Over time, these newer varieties cross-pollinated, allowing them to rapidly spread out of the subdivisions and into Indiana’s forests. As a result, they are crowding out native Indiana trees. For that reason, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources encourages homeowners and landscapers to avoid planting such trees and to replace them when possible.

Cultivated forms of this invasive species are most accurately known as Pyrus calleryana or Callery pear tree. Commonly available ornamental pear cultivars, all of which are invasive and should be avoided, include Bradford, New Bradford, Cleveland select, autumn blaze, Aristocrat, capitol, Chanticleer, and dozens more.

Evidence of the trees’ rapid spread is easy to see. In Franklin, for example, motorists on U.S. 31 at Youngs Creek can see pear trees planted in suburban lots on the west side of the highway. But runaway trees are visible near Greenlawn Cemetery on the east side of the road and at the edge of a drainage ditch on the west side at the edge of Blue Heron Park.

These stray trees likely were planted when birds ate the small fruits and then deposited the seeds elsewhere. That means there’s no way to keep these invaders restrained. They must be cut down and replaced with native species that are best suited for our region.

If you are looking for an alternative flowering tree for Indiana, serviceberry trees, which have similar white blooms in the spring and fruits that attract wildlife, are one option. Eastern redbud, which grows quickly, with eye-catching lavender flowers in the spring, is another option.

Bradford pear varieties are still commonly sold at large home centers even though they are a demonstrated detriment to Hoosier forests. So don’t buy them. Plant native species instead.

Another menace to our forests that remains readily available is burning bush. This deciduous shrub is known for its bright red fall foliage. While strikingly attractive, it can be easily spread to forest areas, where it can form dense thickets that displace native plants.

The detrimental nature of burning bush has been known for decades, yet stores continue to sell it to homeowners who are unaware of its impact on the forest ecosystem. Most people see a few good-looking, often well-pruned, burning bush shrubs in a front yard and wonder where the invasion is. What’s all the fuss about? But once we can all see it, it is way too late.

There are several good, native alternatives to burning bush. Chokeberry, for example, has white flowers in the spring, beautiful fall foliage color and berries in late summer that last into winter, that is, if the birds don’t eat them all first. It is hardy and adaptable to many conditions.

Dogwood and sumac also are good alternatives.

Still another readily available invasive plant is wintercreeper, commonly sold as a ground cover. This plant competes with native plants by depleting soil moisture and nutrients, blocking sunlight and forming a dense mat that impedes growth of seedlings of native species. Several native alternatives are readily available.

Preventing the spread of invasive species requires effort from a variety of stakeholders, including government and retail businesses. But most of all, it starts with individual homeowners who decide to remove invasive species from their yards and replace them with plants that nature meant to be grown there in the first place.

At a glance

To learn more about native plants that are great for landscaping, visit the Indiana Native Plant and Wildflower Society page at inpaws.org/landscaping

Autumn Blaze Flowering Pear Tree

An Adaptable, Gorgeous Tree Fit For Every Landscape

The Autumn Blaze Flowering Pear Tree is a magnificent choice for every yard. This highly adaptable, durable and resilient tree is unmistakably stunning throughout the year. You can’t go wrong by adding this tree to your landscape.

It has remarkable ornamental value in every season. To bring year-round, striking visual interest to your yard, plant as many Autumn Blaze trees as your heart desires. Perfect as a compliment to large evergreen trees or as a central showpiece, the Autumn Blaze will look magnificent all throughout the year.

This tree produces prolific blooms in the spring. The spring delivers gorgeous, fragrant white flowers to the Autumn Blaze. You’ll have so many flowers, you may not even see the branches of your tree. Often appearing before the leaves fully unfurl, the blooms create an incredible contrast against the bare branches or the glossy, dark green leaves.

The autumn show gives this tree its name. Of course, in the fall you’ll understand the spectacular namesake of the “Autumn Blaze.” The dark green foliage transforms into a showstopping deep, crimson. Your neighbors won’t be able to look away from the sensational, fiery colors in your yard.

Create your own uses for the Autumn Blaze. You could create a grand entrance to your home by lining your driveway with several Autumn Blaze trees. You could also create a centerpiece to your landscape by grouping several trees together in your yard, or add contrast by placing Autumn Blaze trees alongside taller evergreens or trees with duller autumn colors. This tree looks stunning, no matter where you place it and it is highly adaptable to your needs.

Plant it anywhere and watch it grow. The Autumn Blaze Flowering Pear tree is extremely durable and can grow in a number of climates and soil types. From dry desert landscapes to hot, humid, sandy climates to even the cold, windy northern mountains, this tree will thrive.

This is the prize pear tree! Not only can this tree survive in a variety of climates, it is the most cold hardy flowering pear tree there is. Additionally, the branches are firmer than most pear trees, allowing it to have more wind resistance. You may have had other flowering pear trees fail in the past, but don’t be fooled by the beautiful, delicate foliage – the Autumn Blaze is tough and strong.

The Autumn Blaze is an easy choice. No, you won’t get any edible pears from this tree, but you also won’t get all the upkeep. Instead, you’ll get an easy to care for, fast growing, show stopping tree. Don’t be the last in your neighborhood to get this tree; order several today!

Planting & Care

Planting Instructions: Choose a spot in your yard that has full sun exposure. If planting several trees together, be sure to leave at least 15′ between each tree to give the tree room to grow. The Autumn Blaze will not thrive in shallow soils, so be sure to choose a place that gives your tree the depth it needs to grow. When planting your tree, find the root flare zone. This is the spot where the very top root of the rootball meets the trunk of the tree. Do not place any soil amendments like compost or fertilizer in your soil. Simply dig a hole twice as wide as the root ball and just as long. Place your tree in the hole, making sure the root flare zone is right above the surface of the ground. Do not compact the soil; keep it loose. Make sure there are no competing weeds around the tree and then add a 3″ layer of mulch around the tree, extending 6ft. out from the trunk. Keep a 10″ area around the tree trunk free from mulch.

Watering: For zones 4-6, you will need to water your tree once a week for the first year of its life. For zones 6-9, you will need to water your Autumn Blaze tree twice a week for 6 months. When watering, lightly add 1-2 gallons over the rootball for every 1 inch of diameter of the tree. In other words, if your tree trunk is 3 inches in diameter, you will water with 3-6 gallons. During the first 5-7 years of your tree’s life, water once every 3 weeks in warm weather and once every 6 weeks in cold weather. After this, the tree will survive on natural rainfall.

Maintenance: There is very little maintenance with the Autumn Blaze. If the branches of the other Autumn Blaze trees you have planted begin to rub against each other, prune those branches. There is no other pruning required with this tree.

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A young callery pear in a landscape.

Callery pear (Pyrus calleryana) is a species of pear tree native to China that was brought to the US in the early 1900’s in an unsuccessful attempt to improve fireblight resistance in edible pears. This fast-growing deciduous tree in the rose family (Rosaceae) wasn’t promoted as an ornamental until the 1950’s. It is relatively short lived (less than 25 years) and hardy in zones 4-9. Callery pear is now considered an invasive species in many areas of the eastern US, as it outcompetes many native plants and trees, especially in disturbed areas.

Callery pear can grow 50-65 feet tall, but is generally much shorter in landscapes. The bark of young trees is light brown to reddish-brown and smooth with numerous lenticels. As the tree matures the bark becomes grayish brown with shallow furrows. The species has an irregular shape and thorny branches, but the cultivars planted as ornamentals are thornless and have been selected for uniform shape. Young trees often are conical, but eventually become oval to spreading with a rounded crown when mature. Many cultivars that were selected for their narrow form, especially ‘Bradford’, are very susceptible to damage by high winds, ice storms, or heavy snowfall because of crowded branches with narrow crotch angles that break easily causing the tree to split. These trees have a shallow root system, so are difficult to plant under, and often sucker heavily.

The trees bloom in early spring before the leaves have expanded. The branches are profusely covered with white, five-petaled flowers up to an inch in diameter. Although the appearance of the flower-covered trees is quite attractive, the scent is pungent and rather unpleasant. Flowers are followed by loose clusters of small (to ½ inch diameter), persistent, russet-colored, inedible, almost woody fruits (pomes).

Callery pear blooms in early spring (L), with branches heavily covered (C) with white flowers (R).

Trees are generally self-incompatible (unable to produce fertile seeds when self-pollinated) and will not produce viable seed when cross-pollinated with another tree of the same cultivar. However, they will produce viable seed when cross-pollinated by different cultivars. The resulting seedlings often are very different from the parents, many with undesirable traits (including thorns). Named cultivars are propagated commercially from cuttings and grafted on hardy rootstock. After the hard fruits are softened by frost they are eaten by birds which disperse the seeds; if the seeds are fertile they can sprout and establish wild stands which can become invasive. In many areas of the eastern US where lots of different cultivars had been planted, this interbreeding occurred readily and led to the progeny invading nearby fields, right-of-ways, parks or other natural open areas by the 1990’s.

The smooth, glossy leaves change from green (L) to brilliant colors in the fall (R).

Callery pear produces a dense canopy soon after the flowers drop. The alternate oval leaves with wavy, finely toothed margins are about 1½ to 3 inches long, and change from a dark glossy green to brilliant yellow, orange, pink, red, purple, or bronze in autumn. Individual leaves may have several colors, but often are just a single color, with different colored leaves on a tree to produce a lustrous effect. As the leaves turn color late in the season they can be killed by a hard frost before full color can develop, leaving the leaves an unexciting brown.

This small tree is best grown in full sun in moist, well-drained loam soil, but it adapts to a wide range of soil conditions including heavy clay. It is somewhat drought tolerant once established. Trees should be pruned when young in winter to establish good branching that will be less prone to breakage as the trees age. Cultivars are suitable for smaller sites, as a specimen planting or in small groups.

Callery pear through the seasons.

Callery pear is often used as a street tree.

Once considered the perfect street tree, with profuse early bloom, a restricted pyramidal shape, good fall color, and its tolerant of many soil types and pollution, it has been widely planted in urban and suburban areas (overplanted in many places). It is quite common on city streets, around commercial buildings and in parks.

Some of the many cultivars of callery pear available include:

  • ‘Aristocrat’ – pyramidal with more open and horizontal branches, it has better structural strength than ‘Bradford’ but is susceptible to fire blight and fall color can be inconsistent.
  • ‘Autumn Blaze’ – has earlier fall color than other cultivars, but has thorns and is somewhat susceptible to fire blight.
  • ‘Bradford’ – introduced in Maryland in 1960, it has dense upward growth and a tight branching pattern (good in small spaces), but the many weak crotches make it highly susceptible to damage unless pruned when very young.
  • ‘Capital’ – has better structural strength than ‘Bradford’ but is very susceptibility to fire blight. zone 5
  • Chanticleer® – (also known as ‘Cleveland Select’, ‘Select’, ‘Stone Hill’ or ‘Glen’s Form’) is considered to be one of the best of the cultivars. This narrow selection from Cleveland, Ohio, introduced in 1965, has resistance to fire blight and is less prone to storm damage. Leaves turn mahogany red to purple-red in the fall, but the is color not as good as other cultivars. It produces less fruit than other types. It grows 25-30 feet tall and 15 feet wide.
  • New Bradford® (‘Holmford’) – is more oval to rounded than pyramidal and has yellow to orange-red fall color. zone 5b
  • ‘Redspire’ – is broadly oval to rounded with yellow to orange-red fall color. zone 5b

Callery pear in bloom on the UW campus.

While this can be a nice tree in many situations , because of its smelly flowers, weak wood, and potential for invasiveness (not observed in Wisconsin, however, likely because seedlings are not as hardy as grafted plants; however caution should be used especially near natural areas), callery pear is not a tree to recommend for every landscape. Remove unhealthy or old, deteriorating trees where possible and consider other trees for new landscape projects. Some alternatives include serviceberry (Amelanchier), ‘Royal White’ redbud (Cercis canadensis), many cultivars of flowering crabapple, and Sargent cherry (Prunus sargentii).

– Susan Mahr, University of Wisconsin – Madison


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Aristocrat Flowering Pear

What a stately, well-formed ornamental tree! With impeccable presence in the landscape, Aristocrat Flowering Pear Tree (Pyrus calleryana ‘Aristocrat’) delights year round.

This fast growing, hardy, Flowering Pear tree delivers an outstanding floral display in early spring. Breathtakingly beautiful clusters of white flowers bloom on bare branches before the leaves appear. It truly is a magnificent spring show.

The spring flowers are quickly followed by bright, glossy green foliage that casts refreshing shade all growing season long. The leaves are a bit wavy at the edges, which is a subtle decorative feature in itself.

The leaves then turn a deep mix of harvest gold, scarlet red and wine dark purple in mid to late fall. This spectacular fall color is a lovely and reliable ornamental feature.

Even in winter, Aristocrat Flowering Pears are attractive. They have a stronger branch structure than their relatives, the Bradford Pear. That’s because Aristocrat won’t produce an excessive number of small shoots in between branches.

These uncluttered branch crotches make them less susceptible to damage from winter ice and strong winds. They also look far nicer when the branches are bare.

Aristocrat Flowering Pears grow with a uniform and neat canopy for a very polished look. Overall, the profile looks like a rounded pyramid.

Aristocrat root systems won’t damage concrete patios, sidewalks or driveways. In fact, with their tolerance of urban pollution, they are frequently used as street trees in areas where the Aristocrat can be sold.

Special Notes

Aristocrat is a regulated tree that performs just a bit too well in certain areas. Callery Pears may cross-pollinate if other varieties are planted nearby. Because birds love the tiny fruit, they can disperse these new hybrid Pears into the wild. Because of this, some locales have restricted their sale.

Rest assured, Nature Hills uses Plant Sentry™ to track all federal, state and local regulations on invasive materials. We will always protect you and your community. Trees are an investment in our future. We’re happy to offer this special tree for sale into areas where it will work beautifully without any concern.

To check your availability, simply type in your Zip Code to Find Your Growing Zone in the section above the Plant Highlights. Don’t miss out on your opportunity to grow this marvelous tree in your landscape!

How to Use Aristocrat Flowering Pear in the Landscape

Great for new homes, this fast-growing Flowering Pear can tolerate compacted and clay soils sometimes found in newly constructed lots.

The formal outline of the plant makes it a perfect specimen for your yard. Use a single tree at the corner of your front yard foundation planting. It will be the anchor of your design, and never outgrow it’s space or look messy.

Or, use this as a tidy frame to outline landscape features. Try this in very precise applications, such as a geometric allée marching along both sides of a long driveway.

Aristocrat has been used by many municipalities as a street tree. This is because it maintains its form without requiring pruning. It also tolerates urban sites beautifully and offers spring bloom, outstanding form, and great fall color.

It can also be used as a repeating ornamental element used as a backdrop in your backyard perennial or shrub borders.

To have a solid screen where the branches overlap and touch, plant the trees 10 feet apart.

For individual trees that will not overlap, plant the trees 15 – 20 feet apart.

#ProPlantTips for Care

These gorgeous trees are very adaptable to most soils – including clay – but it should be well drained. If poor drainage is suspected, mound up soil 18 – 24 inches high above the native soil line. You’ll plant directly in that mound.

Give regular moisture to establish new roots in your soil. After the first few seasons, they become drought tolerant and very easy care.

Aristocrat branches can be thinned out when your tree is young, if you would like. These grow into a naturally dense canopy and thinning out the smallest branches may benefit you in the long run.

Simply decide which branches you will keep and remove the rest back to the main trunk. Be sure to keep a symmetrical profile if you do prune branches back.

While the trees are young, remove any secondary leaders that might develop. Prune after the bloom so you won’t miss a moment of the display.

This smaller tree is bedecked with ornamental features like early spring bloom, glossy green leaves and amazing fall color. No wonder it is so popular!

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