How to plant a flowering pear tree?

Pyrus calleryana – Aristocrat

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Fire Blight on ornamental pear

Last week I got the first call I have been anticipating for several weeks now. The caller began to describe how the leaves on her ornamental or Bradford pear tree were turning black and the tree looked bad. After a few questions, I speculated it was a common disease called fire blight.

A tour around town confirmed my initial diagnosis. Quite a few of the ornamental pear trees I observed have the tell-tale signs of fire blight. These signs include new leaves turning black or brown, new shoots suddenly dying and curling, and the remains of blooms still attached to the shoots. A closer look will reveal blackened stems, often near the node where the blooms and leaves are attached.

Typical shepherd’s crook symptom due to rapid die-back of tender new growth.

Since tender new growth dies so quickly, the ends of young, tender shoots bend over, giving the appearance often referred to as a “shepherd’s crook”.

Fire blight is caused by a bacterium called Erwinia amylovora, and attacks certain members of the Rosaceae family, including pears, apples, crabapples, hawthorns, mayhaws, and flowering quince. On susceptible varieties, fire blight can be very destructive, causing extensive dieback and even death if re-infected regularly over the years.

Infected pear leaves turn black while apple leaves typically are brown.

The bacterium first gets into a plant through natural openings in blooms, or wounds caused by insects, hail, broken or freshly pruned branches. Once a tree has fire blight, the bacteria can then infect older wood.

The ‘Bradford’ variety of ornamental pear is considered to be quite resistant to fire blight, but under favorable conditions, it can also become moderately infected, but fortunately this doesn’t happen too often. ‘Aristocrat’, another ornamental pear variety, while having other favorable characteristics, is much more susceptible to fire blight. Many of the pear varieties we grow for the edible fruit are also prone to fire blight. The delicious ‘Bartlett’ pear is highly susceptible, and should never be planted in east Texas. Fruiting pear varieties with better fire blight resistance include ‘Warren’, ‘Ayres’, ‘Magness’, ‘Kieffer’ and ‘Orient’.

So, just what are those favorable conditions that favor disease development? The conditions for a “perfect storm” include warm temperatures in February and March just prior to and during bloom, along with high humidity and/or rainfall during the blooming period. The warm weather and moist conditions promotes the bacteria to actively grow, and splashing rain can spread the disease within a tree. Honey bees and other insects transmit it both within a tree and to other trees in the area as they visit flowers for their nectar.

Another factor that favors disease development is soft, succulent growth during spring and summer. The tender shoots and leaves are more easily damaged allowing entry of the disease. Avoid applications of nitrogen fertilizer around pear trees to reduce their vigor and amount of succulent growth.

So, what can you do about it? Prevention with fungicides or bactericides is only effective during bloom. Copper-based fungicides and agricultural streptomycin are recommended as treatments during bloom. These products are not effective at other times of the year. Once the tree is infected, the only option is to prune out infected branches, which can be a daunting task if you’re dealing with a large tree and lots of dieback.

This coming winter, prune out infected branches at least 8 inches below the damage. If practical, remove shoots at their point of attachment rather than leaving stubs. Inspect the shoots and look for cankers (darkened, shriveled, sunken areas of the stems). Bacteria will likely occur below the cankers which is why you need to prune several inches below obvious cankers.

Avoid pruning when the plants are wet. Dip pruning tools in 70 percent isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) or 10 percent bleach solution (1 part bleach to 9 parts water solution) between each cut. (see Linda Chalker-Scott’s article on why she does not recommend using bleach – her disinfectant of choice is Lysol). Wash and oil tools when you are finished – bleach is extremely corrosive and can ruin metal (not to mention your clothes). If you don’t disinfect your pruning tools between cuts, you will likely spread the bacteria even more through the fresh wounds created by contaminated pruning equipment.

Welcome to Tagawa Gardens Nursery & Garden Center

Chanticleer Ornamental Pear in bloom

Chanticleer Ornamental Pear in bloom

(Photo courtesy of NetPS Plant Finder)

Chanticleer Ornamental Pear flowers

Chanticleer Ornamental Pear flowers

(Photo courtesy of NetPS Plant Finder)

Chanticleer Ornamental Pear in fall

Chanticleer Ornamental Pear in fall

(Photo courtesy of NetPS Plant Finder)

Height: 40 feet

Spread: 15 feet


Hardiness Zone: 4

Other Names: Callery Pear, Cleveland Pear


A tall and narrowly upright accent tree covered in attractive white flowers in spring followed by small inedible fruit, good fall color, very ornamental, symmetrical form makes for a prominent vertical accent; resistant to fireblight

Ornamental Features

Chanticleer Ornamental Pear is clothed 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 showy yellow pomes displayed from mid summer to early fall.

Landscape Attributes

Chanticleer Ornamental Pear is a dense deciduous tree with a narrowly upright and columnar growth habit. 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 tree will require occasional maintenance and upkeep, and is best pruned in late winter once the threat of extreme cold has passed. It is a good choice for attracting birds and bees to your yard. Gardeners should be aware of the following characteristic(s) that may warrant special consideration;

  • Messy

Chanticleer Ornamental Pear is recommended for the following landscape applications;

  • Accent
  • Shade
  • Vertical Accent
  • Hedges/Screening
  • Windbreaks and Shelterbelts

Planting & Growing

Chanticleer Ornamental Pear will grow to be about 40 feet tall at maturity, with a spread of 15 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 50 years or more.

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. It is highly tolerant of urban pollution and will even thrive in inner city environments. This is a selected variety of a species not originally from North America.

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Spring is in the air. You can tell, because the air stinks.

That foul fragrance is the contribution of the Callery pear tree to Colorado. Those who have not inhaled its near-toxic fumes simply don’t understand; it’s something you have to experience to believe. But if the Callery continues on its prolific track of pervasiveness, it won’t be long before its rotten stench permeates this town.

See also: – Denver’s five best patios to celebrate the arrival of spring (despite the snow) – Ten memorable Denver Craigslist Missed Connections, spring edition – April showers bring rusty flowers: Kenny Be’s Yard Arteology

For those who’d like to avoid experiencing the Callery’s springtime redolence, this could be your lucky year. During less oscillating spring conditions, the Callery will usually smell for two to three weeks when its flowers bloom. But according to John Murgel, a horticulturist at the Denver Botanic Gardens, “Some flowering trees aren’t blooming at all this year because of the late frost.” Also playing a role in this unpredictable behavior is the fact that Callery trees are ornamental, which means they tend to be planted individually in a wide range of locations. “If a tree is in a warmer, exposed site,” says Murgel, “it could already be flowering.”

Flowering, and stinking. “Any time plants emit fragrances, it’s typically to attract pollinators, and that’s what the pear is doing as well,” Murgel explains. “We normally associate sweet smells with trying to attract bees, but a lot of plants all over the world use really terrible smells in order to attract beetles and flies as pollinators.”

The Callery isn’t the only tree that smells bad this time of year. Denver’s also home to the hawthorn, which “has a rather odd smell that some people find repulsive and others actually seem to like,” says Denver City Forester Robert Davis. The infamous Gingko, which many people describe as smelling like vomit, also resides in Denver; however, Murgel claims that it’s the female Gingko, typically found on the East coast, that smells — and not the male version of the tree, which is found in Denver.

The Callery pear, aka Pyrus calleryana, was originally native to southern Asia. It was transplanted to the United States in the early 1900s amid a fire-blight outbreak that wiped out over 86 percent of the country’s European pear trees, known as Pyrus communis. Unlike its European cousin, the Callery pear was immune to blight and most other diseases that threatened popular trees at the time, making it ideal for decorative purposes in heavily populated metropolises. By the early ’60s the Callery pear was one of the most widely planted trees in the nation, thriving mostly in the South, where the latitude was nearly identical to that of China and other parts of southern Asia. By the turn of the twenty-first century, the Callery was America’s favorite and most pervasive ornamental pear tree.

What everybody seemed to ignore during this time of mass tree-planting mania, however, was that come springtime, the Callery pear emits one of the most foul odors known to man. Although it’s difficult to describe, the most accurate description of the Callery’s budding flowers would be something like a pungent whiff of freshly excreted semen. Sure, you could euphemize and say it smells like a wet, dirty mop dipped in floury fish guts, but isn’t that much more disgusting than likening it to a natural bodily fluid?

These days the Callery pear is experiencing a new level of fame. thanks to social media and a drastically more liberal society, especially in terms of sex. Calling it like it is just isn’t a big deal anymore. There are message boards across the Internet that have devoted entire threads to the tree and articles detailing the reasons behind its odor. Of note is a Pittsburgh University Reddit page dedicated to eradicating all the Callerys on campus, and even an Urban Dictionary entree titled “Semen Tree.”

Unfortunately for the citizens of Denver and fans of good-smelling things in general, the Callery and its awful stench aren’t likely to go away any time soon. While the species is one tough sonofabitch, the tree still needs heat to survive — and as global warming kicks into high gear, areas in the north where the Callery has previously struggled to adapt are becoming places where the tree can thrive. As a result, Denver has become a major way-station for the Callery.

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But that could be a lucky break. As Davis puts it, “Denver has a very small palette of species to work with,” and the Callery just happens to be one. “They may stink a few weeks a year,” he adds, “but they kick butt as an ornamental for the rest of it.”

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Ornamental Trees for sale

Ornamental Trees for sale at Front Range Landscape and Nursery are flowering trees that can create a lot of interest within your landscape. There are several varieties of Ornamental trees that will create year round character with in your design. Our most popular Ornamental tree is a Canada Red Cherry tree. The Canada Red Cherry tree is unique in that it will leaf out with a green leaf in early spring, it is one of the first trees to leaf out in the spring. From there it will flower with beautiful clusters of white fragrant flowers, they smell of sweet honey. From there the leaves actually transition to a deep burgundy color at the end of May beginning of June. The Canada Red Cherry tree will grow to about 25′ tall and 25′ wide. Another, popular ornamental tree is the Spring Snow Crabapple tree. The Spring Snow Crabapple tree is the only fruitless crabapple, it will produce a deep green leaf in the spring and will be covered in white flowers in the spring. The Spring Snow Crabapple will turn a deep gold color in the fall, creating not only spring interest but also fall interest. Another great crabapple would be a Perfect Purple Crabapple. The Perfect Purple Crabapple is unique in that the leaves will be a deep burgundy/purple color. The flowers are a deep fuchsia pink that will bloom in the spring. The Perfect Purple Crabapple is a great option for a smaller yard as the tree does not get wider than about 8-12′ but has a ton of color and interest throughout the spring, summer and fall. For an area that needs an upright narrow tree or for privacy a great option would be a Chanticleer Pear ornamental tree for sale. A Chanticleer Pear tree is an ornamental pear tree that is narrow and upright. It typically grows to about 8′ around and 15-18′ tall. It will produce deep glossy green leaves in the spring and bright white flowers. In the fall the leaves will turn to a deep burgundy color that lasts into the fall longer than most deciduous trees.

If you have questions about ornamental trees for sale at Front Range Landscape and Nursery, contact us today at 303-738-8733

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