The "Chanticleer" Callery Pear Tree

A Popular Flowering City Tree With Great Fall Foliage

"Chanticleer" Callery pear tree (Pyrus calleryana)

C.E. Price/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

The "Chanticleer" Callery Pear was selected as the "Urban Tree of the Year" in 2005 by trade arborist magazine City Trees for its unique combination of resistance to blight and limb breakage, bright foliage, and great form.

Compared to some of the pear's relatives like the commonly planted Bradford pear tree, the Chanticleer Pear's limb strength and strong branching make for a more reliable urban plant as it's unlikely to require city maintenance like limb clean-up or installing reinforcing poles to keep the trees from breaking. The tree also produces small white flowers in the spring, and its leaves turn a rich, plum color tinged with claret in the fall, making it a popular fall foliage plant.

The "Chanticleer" Pear was first discovered during the 1950s on the streets in Cleveland, Ohio, and noted for its desirable characteristics. The tree was commercially introduced in 1965 by the famous Scanlon Nursery, which first called it the "Chanticleer" Pear. It has until recently been one of the most recommended trees suggested by municipal arborists. 

The Flowering Pear

Pyrusis is the botanical name for all pears, most of which are valued for their blossoms and delicious fruits and cultivated commercially throughout much of the U.S. and Canada; however, Callery Flowering Pears do not, however, produce an edible fruit. 

Pears can be grown throughout the temperate regions where winters are not too severe and there is adequate moisture, but pears do not survive where temperatures fall lower than 20 F below zero (-28 C). In the warm and humid southern states, planting a pear should be limited to blight-resistant varieties such as many of the Callery Pear varieties.

The variety named "Chanticleer" is a mostly ornamental tree that reaches a height ranging from 30 to 50 feet that can withstand pollution and be grown along roads due to their ability to process higher levels of car exhaust. In the spring, clusters of 1-inch white flowers cover the tree, and pea-sized, inedible fruits follow the flowers; in the fall, the leaves of this tree turn shiny dark red to scarlet.

Unique Features of Chanticleer Pear Trees

Close-up of Callery pear tree blossom
Mark Burstyn/Getty Images

The Chanticleer Pear is an upright-pyramidal tree that is much narrower than other ornamental pears, making it a valuable addition to landscapes where lateral space to spread is limited. It has attractive flowers, foliage, and fall color, and the bark is at first smooth with numerous lenticels, light brown to reddish-brown, then later turning grayish brown with shallow furrows.

The Chanticleer Pear is less susceptible to early freezes than other pears, very adaptable to many different soils, and resistant to fireblight, and tolerates drought, heat, cold, and pollution, though it cannot survive in dry, waterlogged, or alkaline soil.

Chanticleers should be grown in a location with full sun exposure and do require pruning and trimming in the winter or early spring for optimal growth. Because of its shape and branching structure, the crown is less prone to branch breakage with heavy winter snow. 

Arthur Plotnik, in "The Urban Tree Book," suggests the Chanticleer cultivar "is one of the most is disease resistant, exceptionally cold-hardy, heavily flowered, and richly colored in autumn; reportedly, it even offers a few bonus flowers in fall."

The Pear's Downside

Some cultivars of the Callery Pear, usually the newer varieties, have the ability to grow fruit that produces viable seed. However, there are many states that are now dealing with non-native species invading their environments. According to Invasive's "Invasive and Exotic Trees" list, states now dealing with escaped invasive pears include Illinois, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina.

Many cultivars are generally unable to produce fertile seeds when self-pollinated or cross-pollinated with another tree of the same cultivar. However, if different cultivars of Callery Pears are grown within insect-pollination distance, about 300 feet, they can produce fertile seeds that can sprout and establish wherever they are dispersed.

Another primary concern for this variety of pear tree is that Callery Pears in full bloom produce an undesirable odor. Horticulturist Dr. Michael Durr calls the smell "malodorous" but gives the tree high marks for beauty in landscape design.