The flowering pear (Pyrus calleryana) is an ornamental pear tree grown for its spring-blooming, white flowers. Also referred to as the Bradford or Callery pear, the tree does not bear edible fruit. The pear trees that bear edible fruit belong to the Pyrus communis group. Flowering pear trees come in numerous varieties bred especially for improved flowering. The tree lives to a certain age.
Flowering pear trees have a rapid growth rate and achieve a height of 15 to 20 feet in 8 to 10 years. Flowering pears are among the group of trees with short-to-moderate lifespans of 15 to 25 years, as listed by the Clemson Cooperative Extension.
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Factor Affecting Lifespan
A major genetic flaw in the growth of flowering pear trees impacts longevity. Younger trees need heavy pruning to remove the closely grouped branches found on the short tree trunk. If not pruned, the growing weight of these branches easily the mature trees with wind or snow pressure. This close branching habit causes the majority of trees to die before 20 years of age.
The tree has a mature height of 30 to 50 feet with some cultivars ranging between 12 to 15 feet. The deciduous, leathery foliage is oval and 2 to 3 inches long with a dark-green color. The leaves assume purple, orange, yellow and red shades during fall. The 1-inch, white flowers appear before the foliage in early spring and grow in 3 inch wide clusters of about 12 flowers. The ½-inch, brown, nonornamental and inedible fruits are referred to as pomes.
The flowering pear grows best in areas of full-to-partial sun and a well-drained loam. Flower production is best in sunny areas. The best time to plant container grown or balled-and-burlapped trees is in early spring. The tree adapts well to a variety of soil pH and is well tolerant of urban stresses such as drought, poor soil conditions and pollution. The tree is hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture Plant Hardiness Zones 5 to 9 and needs replacement because if the likelihood of splitting after 15 year.