My young pear tree, an old variety named Lady Petre, has suddenly developed this odd leaf coloration. Does anybody have any idea as to the cause?
Sounds like the Lady Petre is a pretty rare pear (say that five times fast…). A post on the history for those who may be interested:
Have a look at this chart on nutritional deficiencies and see if it presents any clues:
Have you had a soil analysis? It might tell you something quickly.
How has your weather been the last month or so? Excessive heat, rain, no rain, etc.? Sort of looks like it is going into the fall leaf mode.
Fall color shouldn’t come already, and wouldn’t look like this.
That’s a consideration. But other pear trees, only a few feet away, look fine.
You mentioned that this was a younger tree. I’m curious how young exactly, and how long it’s been planted where it is. Could it be an issue with the tree getting established?
Also curious whether the leaves have looked this way all along, or if they started out looking more normal and then changed at some point (and if so, when)?
A phosphorous deficiency can cause some pretty leaf colors. It could be something like that. A soil test could confirm.
Some trees here have started turning colors and losing like it was fall. We have had a long drought here. That is why I was asking about the weather. Sometimes the problem effects smaller trees first since their rootstocks have not gotten deeper into the soil.
I had one of my younger pear trees look like that a few years ago when we had yet another longer drought period.
The leaves appear to indicate the tree is undergoing environmental stress. Maybe to much water?
The tree is perhaps 5 years old. It looked fine up until a week or so ago. It’s planted in a row with other pears, each at about 8 foot spacing. Other trees look fine.
So it sounds like the tree should be well established, but it is something specifically to do with this tree, and not just the general site conditions, because the other trees appear to be unaffected. Also, the original Lady Petre tree apparently lived for a couple of hundred years, so it doesn’t seem like the variety is particularly fragile.
This article suggests that leaves turning reddish purple can be due either to a phosphorus deficiency (as snowflake suggested) or a buildup of anthocyanins, which can be due to various kinds of stress (as Mike and Clark suggested).
Both of these possibilities would still leave the question of why this tree and not the others.
This article suggests that premature reddening of leaves can be a sign of crown rot.
Perhaps other people (there are many here more knowledgeable than me) can come up with other possibilities.