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Then & Now: Showy Callery Pear

Early cultivars of Callery pear (Pyrus calleryana), for example 'Bradford,' perform poorly in inclement weather (ice and wind) as they age.  Its reported inferior branching habit composed of many vertical stems weaken over time and cannot withstand heavy loading from ice and wind.  In contrast to the 'Bradford' is the 'Cleveland Select' aka 'Chanticleer' which was selected as the 2005 Urban Tree of the Year by the Society of Municipal Arborists.

(For a perspective of these two pears in spring click here.)
What the 'Bradford' and preferred cultivars of the species have in their favor are showy spring flowers and brilliant fall color.  And for the wildlife enthusiasts among us, its fruit is a food source for birds.  A description of the flowers from the Central Park Conservancy:
A profusion of beautiful white flowers, each 1/2 to 3/4 inch in diameter, growing in clusters measuring 2 to 4 inches across, appearing before or with the leaves.
The leaves exhibit a range of colors: yellow, orange, red, purple. Callery pear is reportedly one of the first trees to flower in the spring.  If the tree is growing in Chicago, its fall color can last 10 to 21 days and into December in the absence of a frost, according to the Morton Arboretum.  The photograph of the Callery pears, pictured above, was taken on November 29, 2011 in Manhattan.


Les said…
Timely topic. I got an email today from a customer who told me her community assc. said she had to plant a Bradford to replace one that died. I encouraged her to contact the assc. to get this nasty tree off of the approved list. We are going to plant a Chanticleer in its place, without letting anyone know.
lauren said…
"Another problem with the "improved" pear cultivars, is that they cross pollinate with 'Bradford' pear. 'Bradford' pear was originally introduced as a fruitless tree. Suddenly 'Bradford' and other pears began to produce large quantities of marble size fruit. This fruit was carried, probably by birds, so that now hybrid Callery pears are showing up along roadsides and in forested areas where they will out compete and displace native species."

Callery Pears and its cultivars are planted everywhere. There are a lot of great trees, especially native trees, out there that can replace these trees. The birds are spreading the fruits to other areas. At my university located in PA, callery pears are present in a meadow along a roadside near a woodland edge. They are creeping their way into the woodland. In the fall all you see is the mass of fall color of the Callery Pear. It is not something to be praised.

Also, Koelreuteria paniculata has been found to have invasive tendencies in the Northeast as well.

Georgia said…
Lauren: thank you for informative comment. Would you mind providing a list of alternatives to the Calley pear? I would like publish a follow-up to this post.