Most of the pear trees I encounter in New York are Bradford Pears. And most of you know how I feel about the dreaded Bradford Pear. And even then, I've had to complain once or twice more. But I was actually surprised and even delighted to see this species of pear, Pyrus communis or fruiting pear, growing on East 5th Street.
I would love to know why a fruiting tree is growing here. Who planted it, and why? I was also surprised that it was even in fruit. Some fruiting trees, like cherries, cannot self-pollinate and I falsely assumed this was the case with Pyrus communis, but a quick google search attested that this plant can bear fruit individually. (Note: the need for a pollinator in orchard trees is not the same as a plant being monoecious or dioecious. Cherries, for example, do have male and female flowers on the same specimen, as opposed to hollies, which have male plants and female plants. Cherries just can't produce viable fruit without crossing with another cherry.)
The ability of the pear to self-pollinate is one of the reasons this plant makes a great orchard tree for the dilettante farmer. The plant is not nearly as high-maintenance as an apple, peach or plum. Fruiting pears thrive without much attention and don't get the blights, rusts and mildews that may attack their other relatives in the Rosaceae family.
And finally, below, a clue:
But who, or what, is Reine Valoir? A google search came up empty on anything specific to this tree or block. Reine is 'Queen' in French of course, and valoir is a verb that means 'to be worth.' So perhaps, this in fond memory of a Worthy Queen... Elizabeth? Victoria? Or maybe someone who worked at the nearby Lucky Cheng's?