Friday, December 26, 2014

My favorite plant of the week: Pyrus calleryana

We don't get much in the way of winter color.  While that's due in part to the selection of plants on the property, the comparatively warm winter-time temperatures here are the main culprit.  This year it stayed warmer longer and even the persimmon trees didn't show much of the yellow and orange tones they've worn in prior years.  However, the colder night-time temperatures we've recently experienced appear to have colored up our ornamental pear tree, Pyrus calleryana, making it my favorite plant this week.


The tree occupies space in a small patch of lawn (or weeds masquerading as lawn) between the garage and the street




Of course, the pace at which the tree is losing leaves has picked up so the color may not last long.

Most of these leaves get tossed into the nearby composting bin


Native to China, this is a very common tree in Southern California.  It's primary attractions are its fall color and its very early spring blooms.   It began blooming in late January this year and was in full bloom when the photo below was taken on February 4th.  The flowers have a characteristic scent, which is seldom mentioned in polite company but you can read about here.




The tree produces fruit but even the hungry critters in the garden seem to ignore these.  However, at least one of our squirrels thinks its the perfect place to hang out and eat fruit stolen from the citrus trees in the vegetable garden.

Last week, my husband commented that he thought the oranges were ripe.  I disagreed but perhaps he was right.

This may be one of the smaller Mandarin oranges rather than one of the navel oranges, as I think the latter are too big for this fellow to carry



Pyrus calleryana is my contribution to Loree's favorite plants meme at danger garden this week.  Earlier this month, I featured another favorite, Agave gentryi 'Jaws,' as part of my foliage follow-up post.  You can see it here and you can view Loree's favorite plants wrap-up for December here.


All material © 2012-2014 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

19 comments:

  1. Dear Kris, hope you had a wonderful Christmas!
    I am really a little bit of a tree ignorant person, but this will change hopefully next year, when I will make an effort to learn the names of the trees growing in America. So thanks for getting me started! Even though as you say this tree is very common in California, I haven't been noticing it consciously. I love the white flowers, but not so sure about the smell ;-)! Your squirrel photos are very cute! Warm regards,
    Christina

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm not much of a tree expert either, Christina. You're most likely to notice the tree in February/March when it suddenly breaks into bloom everywhere. The smell is most evident when there's a group of them in one place - and it disappears with the flowers.

      Delete
  2. È una pianta davvero bella ma purtroppo qui è usata pochissimo! Purtroppo il mio giardino è troppo piccolo per lei :)

    Un saluto :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's too bad, Pontos. Thanks for visiting!

      Delete
  3. Even with the change of colours it looks so warm, still looking like summer and not even autumn. Fab choice :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, I've discovered that cold is relative. In SoCal, we complain about the cold when temperatures dip into the low 60sF (15C). Yesterday, on the way to meet a friend for lunch, I passed a woman wearing a tank top - I was wearing a pullover, a cardigan and a jacket! I'm told that it takes about 2 years for people from areas with colder winters to "chill out" and develop the thin blood characteristic of natives.

      Delete
  4. A lovely tree. Does it have edible pears?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Unfortunately, no. The fruits are about the size of a large pea and I don't think even the birds eat them.

      Delete
  5. I think that's how the squirrels win the fruit stealing game - I'm convinced they are perfectly happy eating NEARLY ripened fruit. At least it looks like your squirrel is eating most of what was stolen. I'm almost fine with that but when they take fruit off the tree, eat a couple of bites and drop the rest to the ground I've been known to growl. Audibly.

    Ornamental pears are used widely in our area for commercial properties and those gorgeous leaves are why. We had one for several years and while it lasted it was a family favorite.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The squirrels and raccoons seem to like the oranges (and my grapes!), Deb, but they strew half-eaten guava and Arbutus berries all about. I'm wondering if the ornamental pear might be a good choice for screening the neighbor's house at the bottom of the slope - it's not evergreen but its dormancy period is relatively short.

      Delete
  6. It's a lovely looking tree (despite the smell when in bloom). The decorative pears are also widely planted in Australia. That squirrel sure does enjoy the citrus fruits - it's a great photo, Matt

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is a lovely tree and I appreciate it despite its commonness here - and its smell. Thanks for visiting Matt!

      Delete
  7. That squirrel seems to be enjoying his meal very much! This ornamental pear tree is exceptionally beautiful in the fall and is common here,too, as many think it will be less susceptible to the ills of its cousin, the Bradford Pear.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I haven't determined what the cultivar is in this case but, thankfully, it's either smaller than the Bradford Pear, or very slow growing.

      Delete
  8. Great shot of the squirrel and a lovely fav...oh that blue sky behind the colored up leaves! As for the scent wow, I had no idea...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Shooting the picture of the squirrel in the tree with a similar bright blue sky in the background a day or 2 earlier is what cemented the tree's selections at my favorite of the week, Loree. Another benefit of the rain is that it clears much of the sludge out of the air and leaves us with pretty blue skies, at least for awhile.

      Delete
  9. The main thoroughfare through my university campus was lined with these. I just can't like them after experiencing the air filled with their "unique" scent. But at least it gives you some late fall/early winter color. Whatever floats your boat! I had no idea that squirrels ate citrus. Deer and cats both seem to dislike citrus, so I assumed most mammals besides humans avoided it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The scent is really hard to miss when the trees are planted en masse, isn't it? The squirrels here seem to eat virtually everything other than the Arbutus berries, which various critters taste, only to leave behind. They even bury unripe guava fruits as if they were nuts. Now that you mention it, though, both squirrels and raccoons seem to prefer the navel and Mandarin oranges to the lemons and limes so maybe they just have discriminating taste buds.

      Delete
  10. I hope my P. calleryana one day looks as good as yours. I had no idea about the smell though! Gorgeous little squirrels.

    ReplyDelete

I enjoy receiving your comments and suggestions. However, with apologies to bona-fide commentators, due to a significant increase in spam, I've eliminated the option to post comments anonymously.