Two species of Pear are coming into flower now, the Common Pear and the Callery Pear. Both have identical white flowers. They can be confused at a distance with the Crab Apple but they flower 2 to 4 weeks before the Apple.
The Common Pear Pyrus communis is native to Europe and the Middle East. It was probably introduced to Britain but now grows wild usually as an isolated tree but has also been planted in parks, orchards and gardens. It is a large tree from which most of the cultivated pears have been developed. There are thousands of varieties in cultivation such as ‘Conference’ – the most popular commercial variety in Britain and ‘Doyenne du Comice’ developed in France. More than 3000 cultivated varieties have been developed, based on just a few wild species.
The Callery Pear is native to China and Vietnam. It was introduced to Britain in 1908. In the form of one of its cultivars ‘Chanticleer’, this ornamental pear can now be found on many streets. It is compact, flowers early and has a very late autumn colour. Its fruit is small, hard and insignificant.
The flowers emerge along with the first leaves and are about one inch across. The flowers come out at the end of March or early April. Each flower has 5 white petals, numerous red anthers and 5 yellow stigmas. In this photo, taken in March 2019 the anthers of the flowers at the top are red but dark purple after releasing pollen in flowers lower down.
When the flowers open, the stamens with their red anthers are bent inward and do not reach the height of the yellow stigmas. The stigmas become receptive before the anthers release their pollen, and as the stamens mature they straighten, placing the anthers at the same height as the stigmas. At this point, the anthers release their pollen and turn dark red. The flowers are pollinated by various flies and bees but will self-pollinate if none are about. This photo was taken at the end of March 2019. Th learn more about pollination and flower parts click here
In this photo, taken in July, the fruit is almost ready to be picked.