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Ornamental Pear
Deciduous, Evergreen, Trees

Ornamental pears are grown for their profuse late-winter or early-spring show of white flowers and their lustrous leaves. Not at their best in shallow soils, they’re otherwise unfussy, even growing well in heavy clay. Most are subject to fireblight. Fruiting pears are described under Pear, Asian and Pear, European.

Pyrus calleryana ‘Chanticleer’
Pyrus calleryana ‘Chanticleer’

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Pyrus calleryana

This deciduous tree grows to 50 ft. tall and wide, with a strong horizontal branching pattern; young growth is thorny. Broadly oval, scallop-edged, leathery, 1/2–3-in.-long leaves are glossy dark green, turning rich purplish red in fall. Blooms very early; late freezes may destroy flower crop. Very small, round, inedible fruit. Less susceptible to fireblight than most pears.

Pyrus kawakamii

From Taiwan. Grows to 15–30 ft. tall and wide, with drooping branchlets and glossy green, oval, 2–4-in. leaves with pointed tips. Masses of flowers appear in winter and early spring, followed by small, inedible fruit. (See Pear for edible varieties.) Left to its own devices, this becomes a broad, sprawling shrub. Can be espaliered, but is most often grown as a single- or multitrunked tree. Semideciduous in coldest parts of its range. Very susceptible to fireblight.

Pyrus pyrifolia

Native to China. Grows to 40 ft. tall and 25 ft. wide. Like European fruiting pear in appearance, but leaves are glossier and more leathery. Fall color ranges from brilliant orange red to reddish purple. Profuse early spring blossoms; small, woody, gritty-textured fruit. This species is involved in the parentage of Asian pear varieties.

Pyrus ussuriensis

Dense, rounded tree to 15–40 ft. tall, 15–25 ft.wide. Roundish, 2–4-in., glossy bright green leaves turn red or purple in fall. Large spring flowers are followed by tiny, hard, inedible fruit. This is a good substitute for callery pear (Pyrus calleryana) in cold zones.


Elegant specimen plant to 12–15 ft. tall and 10–12 ft. wide. Grown for its silvery, willow-like foliage and beautiful weeping habit; the form is showcased in winter, when branches are bare. Flowers appear as the leaves emerge in early spring. Leaves are to 3 1/2 in. long; silvery white when new, slowly turning silvery green in summer. Fruit is insignificant. Very susceptible to fireblight. Sometimes sold as ‘Silver Frost’.

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