What are the Characteristics of the Common Pear Tree? - Home Stratosphere

What are the Characteristics of the Common Pear Tree?

Here is everything you need to know about common pear trees, how they differ from the other types of pear trees, how they reproduce, and the other ways we use pear trees.

This is a close look at a common pear tree in an orchard.

Pyrus Communis

Either referred to as the European pear tree or the common pear tree, this tree is a small deciduous variety that is native to central and eastern Europe, as well as southwestern Asia. Pear trees are a very important fruit tree to temperate regions, along with apple trees and peach trees.

It is said that the pear trees known and cultivated today are all descendants of one subspecies of wild pear tree from the Neolithic age. Archeological findings show that pears were foraged by humans from the wild for many thousands of years before they ever began to be cultivated.

Today there are only a few pear tree cultivars; 20-25 of them are European pear cultivars, and 10-20 of them are Asian pear cultivars. Whichever pear cultivar you choose, planting a pear tree in your backyard can be a great idea.

Part of the Rosaceae family, along with cherries, apricots, and plums, the pear tree is not quite as cold hardy as the apple tree, and has similar chilling requirements to the peach tree. Because of these required conditions, pear orchards can be found all over Europe, North America, and Australia.

If you’re feeling curious about other types of fruit trees or trees in general, head on over to our article 101 Types of Trees after you’ve finished learning about the common pear tree! There is no limit to the awesome information available about these fruit bearing giants.

What do Pear Trees Look Like?

Root System

Pear tree roots grow very shallowly in the soil where they are planted. These trees won’t usually exceed any depth over 20 inches into the ground. Pear tree roots are quite shallow and wide-spreading. They can sometimes exceed the distance of the width of the pear tree crown! For this reason, it is important to plant pear trees far away from one another to prevent root tangling, as root tangling can make removing a sick tree difficult.

Dimensions

Pear trees typically grow to an average of 13 meters in height, and also tend to grow at a remarkably fast rate. However, pear tree growers will often plant these trees using dwarf rootstocks to create a dwarf pear tree. This is done because shorter pear trees are far easier to manage, prune, and eventually harvest.

Growth Pattern

This is a close look at a common pear tree with ripe pears ready to be harvested.

Pear trees are multi-stemmed, with tall, upright ascending branches that create an upside-down pyramidal formed crown.

Bark

This is a close look at the bark of a common pear tree.

The bark of a pear tree is light gray to light brown in color. A young pear tree will have smoothly textured bark, whereas mature pear trees develop deep fissures with shallow ridges.

Foliage

This is a close look at ripe pears surrounded by the foliage of a common pear tree.

Pear tree leaves are glossy and dark green in color. The leaves of the pear tree range from ovate to elliptic in shape and usually measure around four inches long, with a smooth margin. Pear tree leaves typically emerge in springtime, and will turn either yellow or red in autumn right before they fall.

How do Pear Trees Reproduce?

Flowers

This is a close look at a cluster of flowers of a common pear tree.

Pear trees are hermaphroditic. This means that the pear tree flowers possess both male sexual characteristics and female sexual characteristics. Because of this, pear trees are capable of self-pollination. They can also be pollinated by an insect pollinator, for example the honey bee. The pear tree’s beautiful white flowers also tend to attract many butterfly species.

Pear tree flowers usually appear to be a creamy white color, though these can also sometimes have a pink tinge. A pear tree flower will have five petals. These beautiful blossoms begin to burgeon in springtime.

Fruit

This is a close look at a couple of ripe pears ready to be harvested.

Once a pear tree is successfully pollinated and fertilized, it will produce edible fruit in the well-known shape of a pear. The pear is covered in skin that is a delicate yellow or green color, and inside, the flesh is a white-yellow color and very juicy. Pear fruits are quite delicate and can bruise very easily. At the center of the fruit lie the pear seeds.

Pear tree fruit is ripe from September to October. However, farmers will often pick pears when they have just barely mature, and are not fully ripened. The reason for this is that fully ripened pears usually fall from their branch and sustain damage, and because fully ripened pears also frequently sustain damage in transit to sellers. It is best that pear fruits are still a little firm, to help preserve healthy skin.

Sexual Maturity

Pear trees will usually live to be about 50 years old. These trees will not usually start developing flowers and fruit until about five years after they’re planted. Growing pear trees isn’t too difficult, as they grow quickly and produce fruit rather quickly as well.

What Are Some Types of Pear Trees?

The Bartlett Pear Tree 

This is a close look at the Bartlett Pear Tree and its foliage.

The Bartlett pear tree is a cultivar. It’s also known as the Pyrus communis (the common pear tree) and as the Williams’ Bon Chretien pear. These are a very long-lived pear variety, with some trees living over 100 years. They produce pears that are yellow and red, and that can tolerate much warmer temperatures than other pear tree types.

The Callery Pear Tree 

This is a close look at a flowering Callery Pear Tree next to a large house.

Pyrus calleryana, also known as the Bradford pear tree cultivar, the Callery pear tree grows to be five to eight meters tall with a round conical crown. This pear cultivar produces inedible fruits, but these are known for being exceptionally lovely ornamental pear trees. They exhibit exquisite fall colors, with their leaves changing to yellow, red, orange, pink, purple, and bronze in autumn.

The Kieffer Pear Tree 

This is a close look at the foliage of the Kieffer Pear Tree with ripe pears.

The Kieffer pear tree is a hybrid between the European pear tree and the Chinese pear tree. This pear tree variety is tolerant of exceptionally hot climates and produces large yellow pears that are particularly crisp.

Where do Pear Trees Grow?

This is a close look at rows of blossoming pear trees at an orchard.

The pear tree originated in southwestern China, though it has been naturalized all throughout the eastern United States, Europe, and Australia. Pear trees are commonly found growing in the wild in abandoned fields with lots sun exposure, along fences, and in open woodland areas.

What are the Growing Conditions of Pear Trees?

This is a close look at rows of common pear trees at an orchard.

Soil

Pear trees are adaptable to many different soil types. They can tolerate light sandy soil, medium loamy soil, and heavy clay soil. Though pear trees tend to prefer soils that remain moist and well-drained, they are also tolerant of drought conditions. Pear tree soils can be either acidic or neutral.

Sun Exposure

Pear trees can tolerate semi-shade, though they prefer to exist in full sun conditions.

Temperature

The pear tree is much less cold hardy than the apple tree, though it can tolerate temperatures as low as 5 degrees Fahrenheit. However, consistent low temperatures will end up resulting in blossom death, resulting in no pear fruit crop for that season.

What are the Damaging Agents of Pear Trees?

  • fire blight
  • anthracnose
  • canker
  • Apple scab
  • powdery mildew
  • pear psylla
  • codling moth
  • borers

How are Pear Trees Used?

This is a close look at a single mature pear tree in the middle of a wide field.

Of course, other than being commercially harvested for its delicious fruits, the pear tree also has some other uses:

Wood

Unlike many other types of fruit trees, the wood of the pear tree is also highly valuable. Pear tree wood is heavy, durable, and tough. It has a fine grain and an attractive color. Pear tree wood is often used to make high-quality woodwind instruments or in the creation of fine cabinetry.

Natural Dye

When pear tree leaves are collected and steeped, they release a very attractive deep yellow color that has been used traditionally in natural pigment dyeing.

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