'Chanticleer' Callery Pear was selected Urban Tree of the Year in 2005 by trade arborist magazine City Trees. This truly beautiful flowering tree has a place in the landscape but with some caution. I'll get to that later.
The 'Chanticleer' Callery Pear is a cultivar, partly selected because of its unique combination of good traits including great form and resistance to blight and limb breakage. Poor limb or weak branching has been a major problem with some of the pear's relatives including commonly planted Bradford pear trees .
The 'Chanticleer' pear was found during the 1950s on streets in Cleveland, Ohio and noted for it's desirable characteristics. The pear was commercially introduced in 1965 by famous Scanlon Nursery and calling it the 'Chanticleer' Pear. It has until recently been one of the most recommended trees by municipal arborists. The tree shows a white flowering magnificence in the spring and its plum fall color tinged with claret makes it a popular fall foliage plant.
The Flowering Pear
Pyrusis is the botanical name for all pears. They are greatly valued for their blossoms and delicious pears. Callery flowering pears will not produce an edible fruit. Pears can be grown throughout the temperate regions where winters are not too severe and there is adequate moisture.
Pears will not survive where temperatures fall lower than 20º F below zero (-28º C). They are widely cultivated commercially throughout much of the U.S.and Canada. In the warm and humid southern states, planting a pear should be limited to blight-resistant varieties (many of the callery pears are resistant).
The variety, named 'Chanticleer', is a beautiful tree that is grown ornamentally and reaches a height ranging from 30 to 50 feet. In the spring, clusters of 1-inch, white flowers cover the tree. Pea-sized, inedible fruits follow the flowers. The leaves of this tree turn shiny dark red to scarlet in the fall. This variety withstands pollution and can be grown along roads.
The 'Chanticleer' Pear is an upright-pyramidal tree that is much narrower than other ornamental pears. This tree makes a valuable addition to the landscape and is a good choice where lateral space to spread is limited. It has attractive flowers, foliage, and fall color. Bark is at first smooth with numerous lenticels, light brown to reddish-brown, then later turning grayish brown with shallow furrows. 'Chanticleer' is less susceptible to early freezes than other Pears. The 'Chanticleer' Pear is very adaptable to many different soils and it tolerates drought, heat, cold, and pollution. Plant in full sun.
Prune in winter or early spring. Because of its shape and branching struction, the crown is less prone to branch breakage with heavy winter snow. This variety of callery pear is resistant to fireblight. 'Chanticleer' Pear trees can live in any fertile soil, especially one that is loamy. They should be grown in a location with a sunny exposure. 'Chanticleer' can survive periods of drought, cold, and air pollution, but will not tolerate dry, waterlogged, or alkaline soil.
Arthur Plotnik, in The Urban Tree Book, suggests the Chanticleer cultivar "is one of the most promising...it 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 produce viable seed. Check Invasive.org'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 in within insect-pollination distance, about 300 feet, they can produce fertile seeds that can sprout and establish wherever they are dispersed.
Odor is another concern. Where Callery pears are in full bloom, an undesirable odor can be noticed. Horticulturist Dr. Michael Durr calls the smell "malodorous" but gives the tree's beauty in the landscape high marks.