Look But Don’t Smell

Ornamental pear trees are blooming along the sidewalks in Pittsburgh right now.  How pretty they look!

I sniffed the flowers and ... eeeewwwww!  They don't smell nice.

These are Callery pears whose most common cultivar is called the Bradford pear.  Originally from China, they're bred for their pleasing shape and size, beautiful flowers and red autumn foliage.  They always look good and looks count more than scent, so the breeders didn't bother to try for sweet-smelling blossoms.

Their scent must appeal to something because the trees produce small hard pears that the birds eat after frost softens them.  I imagine the pollinators are flies attracted to unpleasant, slightly putrid smells... but I don't know.

So enjoy the flowers.  Look, but don't smell!

p.s.  Choke cherries are starting to bloom in the woods and along our hillsides.  They smell nice!

(photo from Wikimedia Commons.  Click on the photo to see the original)

3 thoughts on “Look But Don’t Smell

  1. From what I learned, these trees are not long lived and tend to crack in the crotch areas….I like a crabapple over this…I did have a Cleveland pear and it was buckrubbed and died….so I used the small trunk for my gourds I painted for the (gray) Partridge in a pear tree(pear shaped gourds, painted like a pear)…so it was in a pear tree. Next time you are up, remind me and I will show you…

  2. The Bradford Pears are pretty in the Spring, but one of the big problems with them is that the wood is very weak. Our one neighbor lost all of their Bradford pears in the heavy snowstorms of this year and last year, and the other one had a tree split into 3 pieces after last year’s blizzard…it looked like someone had squashed it flat. There are lots of flowering trees…these would not be my choice to plant.

  3. They line the roadway into my complex in Alabama and were gorgeous, but they truly do smell like fishy fish if you get too close. eeewww.

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