An early flowering tree is the Flowering Pear (Pyrus calleyrana). The tree is not a small tree and can easily grow to 30 or 40 feet. The Flowering Pear has three specific seasonal characteristics, which make it a favorite for landscaping. The seasonal characteristics are the tree’s flowers, attractive summer leaves, and reliable good fall leaf color.
In the spring, the Flowering Pear is covered with white flowers. The tree is in bloom when the magnolias, serviceberries and cherries are also blooming. My personal experience has been that the tree’s flowers persist longer for up to two weeks.
In the summer, the tree has clean glossy green leaves. In the fall, and depending on the variety of Flowering Pear, there are ranges of autumn leaf colors of brilliant oranges, yellows, and reds. Though the fall colors can be great, often times, the tree changes colors after the majority of the other trees have already dropped their leaves. Sometimes the leaves will persist well into mid November. The persistence of the Flowering Pear’s leaves into November can be a problem should an early snowfall occur and the weighted snow on the leaves will cause some large branches to break off.
Flowering pear trees produce a large pea size fruit. After fall frosts or winter freezing, the fruit is softened which allows for birds clean the fruit off the tree. Flowering Pear seeds are dispersed in the bird droppings, which can account for the tree becoming a pest in some parts of the country.
Four varieties of Flowering Pears to consider for the home landscape are:
‘Cleveland Select’ which is drought resistant, grows to 40 feet, has thick branches which can withstand the weight of snow, and has a deep purple fall color
‘Aristocrat’, grows to 40 feet, has a natural pyramidal shape, and dark red or purple fall color
‘Autumn Blaze’, grows up to 30 feet and has the traditional fall foliage colors of red and orange
‘Bradford’ grows 40 feet, has a rounded shape with branches pointing upward, has a yellow fall color, and often times break during wind and snowstorms.
In the landscape, the Flowering Pear can be used as a single specimen tree or a mass planting of 3 or more trees of the same variety.