“Although it’s difficult to describe, the most accurate description of the Callery’s budding flowers would be something like a pungent whiff of freshly excreted semen. Sure, you could euphemize and say it smells like a wet, dirty mop dipped in floury fish guts, but isn’t that much more disgusting than likening it to a natural bodily fluid?”
Among the earliest of my area’s spring flowers, the Callery pear (Pyrus calleryana), just finished its little white explosions and started opening its leaves. My house’s lawn came with a row of them, and I’ve grown to like them, even though everybody hates them and I should too. I’m working on it.
Heck, I even like their little white explosions out on the edges of fields, although, again, I shouldn’t.
Probably the best source on the subject is this scholarly paper, although I’m just summarizing it here.
It’s an ornamental tree from Asia, popularly known as the “Bradford,” although the “Bradford” is just one of many cultivars (varieties created by grafting). It wowed Americans with its ability to stand up to droughts and disease. However, Bradfords split in half easily, so they’re really not as hardy as people thought.
All the varieties of Calleryana we have are cultivars, meaning they have to be grafted and can’t self fertilize like other trees. However, different cultivars can cross pollinate, and the trees have gone wild.
Tennessee Invasive Plant Council considers it an invasive species, meaning that it pushes out native plants. My Dad, plant ecologist Dr. Larry Pounds agrees and told me some feral varieties can get pretty thorny.
I doubt, however, we’ll ever see the Great Smoky Mountains covered in white round trees that smell of semen however. Dad told me he hasn’t seen them growing in forests and it’s easy to see why. Like many ornamental trees, they don’t exactly tower. They stay at a pretty small size.