Pear, a bell-shaped or globular fruit that grows on a leaf-shedding tree. The pear tree grows about 45 feet (14 m) tall. It has pointed, oval leaves and showy clusters of white blossoms. The pear is closely related to the apple and quince.

The pearThe pear is a bell-shaped fruit that grows on a leaf-shedding tree.

The fruit is a pome: only the core, containing small black seeds, is the true fruit; the fleshy, edible part is formed from the stalk. Tiny stone cells are present throughout the flesh of a tree-ripened pear. These cells give the fruit a gritty texture. Grittiness is avoided by picking pears when they are green (before stone cells develop fully) and ripening the fruit in storage. Ripe pears are sweet and juicy.

Pears are used chiefly in desserts and salads. They are sold fresh or canned; canned pears are sometimes spiced.

Growing of Pears

The pear tree is native to temperate regions of Europe and Asia. It has been cultivated for more than 4,000 years. The tree grows best in compact, well-drained clay soil. It is not as hardy as the apple tree, and is highly susceptible to fire blight, a bacterial disease.

Most pears grown in the United States are varieties developed from the European pear tree. The most popular variety is the large, yellow Bartlett, which is eaten fresh. Other important varieties are the Anjou, Bosc, Clapp's Favorite, Gorham, Tyson, and Winter Nelis. The European species sometimes is budded on rootstocks of the partially blight-resistant Japanese pear, or sand pear (which, despite the name, is native to China). The large, reddish Kieffer pear is the fruit of an American hybrid between the European and Japanese species. Dwarf pear trees, about 12 feet (4 m) tall, are obtained by budding on quince stock.

A pear tree begins to bear fruit when it is about four years old, and may live 50 to 75 years. A 25-year-old pear tree yields 1,250 to 2,250 pounds (570 to 1,020 kg) of pears a year.

Leading producers of pears are China, which usually accounts for more than onefourth of the world crop, Italy, and the United States. Much of the Swiss and French crop is used for perry, a type of cider. The chief pear-growing regions of the United States are the Pacific Coast and New England west to the Great Lakes. Washington, California, and Oregon are the leading pear-growing states, accounting for about 95 per cent of the United States crop.

The pear belongs to the rose family, Rosaceae. The European pear is Pyrus communis; Japanese, P. pyrifolia.