Callery Pear (Bradford Pear)

Pyrus calleryana
Rosaceae (roses)

A small to medium-sized tree with a compact, symmetrical, pyramidal or columnar shape that spreads to become oval with age. Many cultivars exist with slightly different characteristics; all contribute to the species' invasiveness.

Leaves alternate, simple, generally oval, to 3 inches long, with rounded teeth, glossy green, turning orange, gold, red, pink and/or purple in fall. Some cultivars develop patterns of colored circles and spots in autumn. Leaves bob in the wind on long leaf stems.

Bark gray-brown, smooth on young trees, splitting into scales with age.

Twigs thornless in cultivated trees, but in wild types the twigs end in thorns.

Flowers in early spring; abundant clusters of white flowers, 5-petaled, each to ¾ inch wide, unpleasant-smelling.

Fruits like tiny, hard apples, round, to ½ inch in diameter, greenish-yellow flecked with whitish spots, inedible, with 2–4 black seeds. After freezes they soften, darken, wrinkle and become palatable to birds.

Height: 30–50 feet ('Bradford' variety).
Habitat and conservation: 
Because it is adaptable to a wide variety of growing conditions, it is a popular tree in landscaping. You can find it in urban, suburban and rural yards, office and apartment complexes, malls, streets and college campuses. It grows quickly and dies young, frequently breaking in strong winds. Its vigor and adaptability have contributed to its invasiveness. We recommend planting a variety of other small trees, especially natives such as serviceberry, yellowwood, redbud and hornbeam.
Distribution in Missouri: 
Invasive. Native to China and Taiwan, callery pear has been a hot landscaping plant for decades. The cultivated forms were thought to be sterile, but recently they’ve been spreading—alarmingly. This happens when many different forms are planted close by (as in towns), cross-pollinate and produce fruits. It also happens when a felled tree resprouts from the base and regrows as a more wild form that can produce viable seeds that are spread by birds.
Human connections: 
If you are considering planting an ornamental pear, do your homework: 'Bradford' tends to produce heavy limbs with narrow branch unions that may fail under an ice or wind load. But other cultivars have been developed that are studier and less invasive. Learn before you plant!
Ecosystem connections: 
When they become invasive, callery pears can crowd and shade out our native plants, reducing the diversity of plants and, thus, of animals too. The wild forms often develop characteristics of the original Chinese trees, including stout thorns that make them difficult to clear.
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