In spring, one of my favorite plants for both fragrance and beauty, is Callery Pear. Callery Pear is a great addition to any environment, but you should be careful with which variety you choose as some are more suited for Nebraska environments than others are.
Callery Pear, Pyrus calleryana, is a medium sized tree that grows up to 30-50 feet tall and has a spread of 20-35 feet. It has alternate, simple leaves that are up to 3 inches long and come to a point at the end of the leaf. The sweetly scented flowers are white and cover the tree in early spring of the year, typically in April and May. The flowers appear on the tree before the leaves do for the year. The leaves are a deep green, glossy leaf with a slight wave to the margin.
There are many different varieties of Callery Pear that can be planted. One of the most commonly known varieties is Bradford Pear. Bradford pear has a fast growth rate and has very narrow branch attachments that have led to a great deal of damage to many Bradford pears planted in our landscapes. Typically, in strong storms, Bradford pear will split down the middle or lose a great deal of larger branches. A better choice for Nebraska landscapes would be 'Chanticleer' or 'Cleveland Select' which grow with much sturdier branch attachments and a good reddish purple fall color. 'Aristocrat' is another good choice for Nebraska as it is more open and upright and has a pronounced wavy edge to the leaf. 'Aristocrat' is also a great choice for its fall color, which varies from yellow to red. The branch attachments are better with 'Aristocrat' than they are with 'Bradford' making this a better choice for an ornamental pear in our landscapes. 'Aristocrat' and 'Chanticleer' are both more tolerant of colder temperatures than 'Bradford' is.
Callery Pear is a great specimen tree to be planted for its beauty and wonderful spring scent. They take full sun and will tolerate many soil conditions. Once Callery Pear is established it is drought tolerant.
Callery Pear trees area great for wildlife. Birds love the small fruits for food. According to the Missouri Department of Conservation, Callery Pear was brought to the United States from China in 1917 for hybridization to improve disease resistance to fruiting pear varieties.
Callery Pear is a great plant for spring interest to your acreage or any landscape, especially if you enjoy the sweet scent of the flowers. It is a great plant to show us the beginning of spring and the hope for warmer weather on the horizon. When choosing a callery pear for your landscape, though, be sure to avoid 'Bradford' and instead opt for a better performing variety such as 'Chanticleer' or 'Aristocrat'. So the next time you are looking for a tree with good spring color choose Callery Pear.