|Leaf Shape||Oval with lightly serrated edges and a rounded base|
|Mature Height||30 to 50 feet|
|Best Habitat||Moist, well-drained soil and full sunlight
|Output||Fruit and flowers|
|Uses||Food, furniture, kitchen utensils|
Adding a Pear tree to your landscape is not as perplexing a proposition as you might think. The tree has a reputation of being high maintenance. However, once you understand a bit more about its features and functions, you'll realize that tending to the tree is well worth the investment, especially when you get to enjoy the fruits of your labor.
Appearance of the Tree
Pear trees are not incredibly hard to identify. They sport a pyramidal shape in their early years, but round out as they age. Most Pear tree types grow to about 40 feet tall with a canopy of about 30 feet wide.
Other noteworthy characteristics of the Pear tree include:
- Leaves: The oval-shaped leaves have lightly serrated edges and a rounded base. In the spring and summer the leaves are dark green and glossy, but take on an orange to burgundy shade in the fall.
- Fruit: The edible fruit can be eaten raw or cooked and range in color from a pale yellow to green. Other types feature brown, tan or red-colored skins. Ornamental pear trees, such as the Bradford, yield small, hard fruit that is exceptionally dark and not tasty. In comparison the Bartlett pear is big, soft and bright yellow when ripe.
- Flowers: The attractive, large, creamy white blossoms look better than they smell. Some describe the scent of pear blooms to rotten fish. The flowers emerge in small clusters during the spring.
If you decide to plant a Pear tree on your property, keep in mind that you will not be able to harvest fruit for at least two growing seasons.
Pear Tree Types
The Pear tree is part of the Pyrus genus which features more than 800 species, many of which have similar traits. With the overwhelming number of Pear tree specimens growing around the world, it may be intimidating to select a specific type to grow. Fortunately, arboriculturists have made it easier by revealing that there are really just two main types of pears: European and Asian.
The Asian pear is often referred to as an Apple Pear tree because its fruit is crisp like an apple. Meanwhile, the European variety bears a softer, juicer pear. Also, while Asian Pear varieties are ready to eat as soon as they are picked from the tree, the European pear is better when it has time to mature off the tree.
Top Asian Pear types include:
Top European Pear types include:
- Red Bartlett
- Harrow Sweet
- Buerre D'Anjou
- Golden Russet Bosc
If you plan to plant more than one Pear tree on your property, be sure to leave about 25 feet between each specimen to accommodate the wide leaf canopy and root system.
Where the Pear Grows
While the Pear tree can grow in just about any region that experiences temperate conditions, the bulk of the species is cultivated in:
- North America
- North Africa
Pear trees need full sunlight and moist, well-drained soil to thrive. In the United States, Pear trees grow exceptionally well in Oregon and Washington where they have access to a preferable combination of clean mountain water, warm days and cool nights.
Pears are an excellent source of Vitamin C and dietary fiber. What's more, they taste good and shine in a variety of recipes, including:
In addition, the Pear tree yields high quality wood which is used to make:
- Kitchen utensils
- Musical instruments
- Umbrella handles
Some Europeans used to smoke Pear leaves in the years before tobacco was introduced.
The Pear tree may not be as easily recognized as the apple tree, but it still yields a wealth of interesting facts, such as:
- Nearly 90 percent of all the pears sold in the United States are grown in Oregon or Washington.
- Pears ripen faster when placed next to bananas.
- Pears ripen from the inside out, so you need to test the skin of the fruit by applying a little pressure to the neck in order to see if it is ready to eat.
- In the Middle Ages, craftsmen would use Pear wood exclusively to make kitchen spoons as the timber does not contaminate food with color, flavor or smell.
Pear wood does not warp or splinter even when it comes into contact with water.
Similar to other trees, the Pear specimen is vulnerable to a number of diseases, including:
- Pear Scab: Also known as Black Spot, the disease presents on leaves. Symptoms include brown lesions that appear like velvet and small spores that dot the undersides of the leaves. The fungal disease can spread to the fruit causing dark, brown blisters to form.
- Powdery Mildew: The unsightly white residue forms a thin white coating on Pear leaves. If left untreated, the leaves can dry out and drop prematurely. In addition, infected trees bear less fruit and the quality of the pears that remain on the tree is compromised.
- Fire Blight: The bacterial disease affects the tree's limbs. Common symptoms include shriveled up flowers and blackened leaves. In advanced cases, the entire tree can take on a scorched look.
Healthy Pear trees will bear fruit, but the sweet treats don't come without some work. In order to maintain a prosperous Pear tree consider the following growing tips:
- Young Pear trees are highly susceptible to wind damage. It is a good idea to stalk the tree for the first three to five growing seasons, so it doesn't uproot in high winds.
- Pear trees need full sun in order to thrive. Do not plant a Pear tree in the shade of larger specimens or near a building that will cast a shadow on it.
- Regardless of type, Pear trees prefer moist soil with good drainage. Avoid planting Pear trees in flood zones.
- Pear trees need to be pruned regularly to encourage air circulation and avoid wild growth.
Finally, while it is not mandated, growers are encouraged to fertilize Pear trees in early spring to stimulate a healthy crop.