European Pear

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European Pear
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European Pear branch with fruit (Image Courtesy of USDA, ARS)
European Pear branch with fruit (Image Courtesy of USDA, ARS)
Plant Info
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Scientific classification
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Kingdom: Plantae
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Division: Magnoliophyta
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Class: Magnoliopsida
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Order: Rosales
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Family: Rosaceae
Subfamily: Maloideae
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Genus: Pyrus
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Species: P. communis
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Binomial name
Pyrus communis
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Type Species

The European Pear Pyrus communis is a species of pear native to central and eastern Europe and southwest Asia. The European Pear is one of the most important fruits of temperate regions, being the species from which most orchard pear cultivars grown in Europe, North America and Australia are developed.



The European pear is thought to be decended from two species of wild pear, categorized as P. pyraster and P. caucasica, which are interfertile with the domesticated species. Archeological evidence shows that pears "were collected from the wild long before their introduction into cultivation," according to Zohary and Hopf.[1] Although they point to finds of pears in sites in Neolithic and Bronze Age European sites, "reliable information on pear cultivation first appears in the works of the Greek and the Roman writers."[2] Theophrastus, Cato the Elder and Pliny the Elder all present information about the cultivation and grafting of pears.

Two other species of pear, the Nashi Pear Pyrus pyrifolia and the Chinese white pear [bai li], Pyrus ×bretschneideri, are more widely used in eastern Asia.



'Starkrimson' is the red-skinned variety of the 'Clapp's Favorite' variety of the European Pear. It is known for its sweet, juicy, and aromatic flesh, and uniform red skin color.


Pear tree in flower

European Pear trees are not quite as hardy as Apples, but nearly so. They do however require some winter chilling to produce fruit.

For best and most consistent quality, European Pears are picked when the fruit matures, but before they are ripe. Fruit allowed to ripen on the tree often drops before it can be picked and in any event will be hard to pick without bruising. They store (and ship) well in their mature but unripe state if kept cold and can be ripened later. Some varieties, such as 'Beurre d'Anjou', ripen only with exposure to cold.

Fermented pear juice is called perry. The place name Perry can indicate the historical presence of pear trees.

Main cultivars

In USA, 95% of the production comes from 4 cultivars [3] :

  • 50% 'Williams Bon Chrétien' (England, 1770; also known as 'Bartlett')
  • 34 % 'Beurré d'Anjou' (France)
  • 10 % 'Beurré Bosc' ( Also known as 'Kaiser Alexander')
  • 1 % 'Doyenné du Comice' (France, 1849; widely regarded as the best pear of all; also known as 'Comice')

Selected European Pear cultivars

  • 'Abate Fetel' (syn. Abbé Fetel; a major cultivar in Italy)
  • 'Ayers' (United States - an interspecific P. communis × P. pyrifolia hybrid from the University of Tennessee)
  • 'Blake's Pride' (United States)
  • 'Blanquilla'
  • 'Butirra Precoce Morettini'
  • 'Clara Frijs' (major cultivar in Denmark)
  • 'Concorde' (England - a seedling of 'Conference' × 'Doyenné du Comice)
  • 'Conference' (England, 1894)
  • 'Corella' (Australia)
  • 'Coscia' (very early maturing cultivar from Italy)
  • 'Dr. Jules Guyot'
  • 'Forelle'
  • 'Glou Morceau' (Belgium, 1750)
  • 'Gorham' (United States)
  • 'Harrow Delight' (Canada)
  • 'Harrow Sweet' (Canada)
  • 'Joséphine de Malines' (France)
  • 'Kieffer' (United States - a hybrid of the Chinese "sand pear", P. pyrifolia and probably 'Bartlett')
  • 'Laxton's Superb' (England; no longer used due to high susceptibility to Fireblight)
  • 'Luscious' (United States)
  • 'Merton Pride' (England, 1941)
  • 'Orient' (United States - an interspecific P. communis × P. pyrifolia hybrid)
  • 'Packham's Triumph' (Australia, 1896)
  • 'Pineapple' (United States - an interspecific P. communis × P. pyrifolia hybrid)
  • 'Red Bartlett' (United States - There are three major red-skinned mutant clones: 'Max Red Bartlett', 'Sensation Red Bartlett', 'Rosired Bartlett')
  • 'Rocha'
  • 'Rosemarie' (South Africa)
  • 'Summer Beauty'
  • 'Sudduth'
  • 'Taylor's Gold' (New Zealand - a russeted mutant clone of 'Comice')

External links


  1. Daniel Zohary and Maria Hopf, Domestication of plants in the Old World, third edition (Oxford: University Press, 2000), p. 176
  2. Zohary and Hopf, Domestication, p. 177
  3. GRIN Source


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