AskDefine | Define pear

Dictionary Definition



1 sweet juicy gritty-textured fruit available in many varieties
2 Old World tree having sweet gritty-textured juicy fruit; widely cultivated in many varieties [syn: pear tree, Pyrus communis]

User Contributed Dictionary



pere, common West Germanic, from Vulgar *pira, feminine singular of pira, plural of pirum, pear


  • (UK) /pɛə/, /pE@/
  • (US) , /pɛɹ/, /pEr\/



  1. An edible fruit produced by the pear tree, similar to an apple but elongated towards the stem.
  2. (also pear tree) A type of fruit tree (Pyrus communis).
    A trio of pears pared to a pair of pears.
  3. The wood of the pear tree.

West Frisian



Extensive Definition

A pear is a pomaceous fruit produced by a tree of genus Pyrus. The English word pear is probably from Common West Germanic *pera, probably a loanword of Vulgar Latin pira, the plural of pirum, which is itself of unknown origin. See also Peorð. The place name Perry can indicate the historical presence of pear trees. The term "pyriform" is sometimes used to describe something which is "pear-shaped".
The pear is classified within Maloideae, a subfamily within Rosaceae. The apple (Malus ×domestica) which it resembles in floral structure, is also a member of this subfamily. In both cases the so-called fruit is composed of the receptacle or upper end of the flower-stalk (the so-called calyx tube) greatly dilated, and enclosing within its cellular flesh the five cartilaginous carpels which constitute the "core" and are really the true fruit. From the upper rim of the receptacle are given off the five sepals, the five petals, and the very numerous stamens. Another major relative of the pear (and thus the apple) is the quince.
The form of the pear and of the apple respectively, although usually characteristic enough, is not by itself sufficient to distinguish them, for there are pears which cannot by form alone be distinguished from apples, and apples which cannot by superficial appearance be recognized from pears. A major distinction is the occurrence in the tissue of the fruit, or beneath the rind, of clusters of lignified cells known as "grit" in the case of the pear, while in the apple no such formation of woody cells takes place. The appearance of the tree—the bark, the foliage, the type of inflorescence (i.e. form of the flower cluster)—is, however, usually quite characteristic in the two species.


The cultivation of the pear in cool temperate climates extends to the remotest antiquity. Many traces of it have been found in the Swiss lake-dwellings. The word "pear" or its equivalent occurs in all the Celtic languages, while in Slavonic and other dialects different appellations, but still referring to the same thing, are found—a diversity and multiplicity of nomenclature which led Alphonse de Candolle to infer a very ancient cultivation of the tree from the shores of the Caspian to those of the Atlantic.
Pears grow in the sublime orchard of Alcinous, in Odyssey vii: "Therein grow trees, tall and luxuriant, pears and pomegranates and apple-trees with their bright fruit, and sweet figs, and luxuriant olives. Of these the fruit perishes not nor fails in winter or in summer, but lasts throughout the year."
The pear was cultivated also by the Romans, who did not eat them raw: Pliny's Natural History recommended stewing them with honey and noted three dozen varieties. The Roman cookbook attributed to Apicius, De re coquinaria, has a recipe for a spiced stewed-pear patina, or soufflé (IV.2.35).
A certain race of pears, with white down on the under surface of their leaves, is supposed to have originated from P. nivalis, and their fruit is chiefly used in France in the manufacture of Perry (see Cider). Other small-fruited pears, distinguished by their precocity and apple-like fruit, may be referred to P. cordata, a species found wild in western France, and in Devonshire and Cornwall. Pears have been cultivated in China for approximately 3000 years.
The genus is thought to have originated in present-day western China in the foothills of the Tian Shan, a mountain range of Central Asia, and to have spread to the east and west along mountain chains, evolving into a diverse group of over 20 widely recognized primary species. The enormous number of varieties of the cultivated European pear (Pyrus communis), are without doubt derived from one or two wild species (P. pyraster and P. caucasica), widely distributed throughout Europe, and sometimes forming part of the natural vegetation of the forests. In England, where an ancient pear tree gave its name to Pirio (Perry Barr, a district of Birmingham) in Domesday, the pear is sometimes considered wild; there is always the doubt that it may not really be so, but the produce of some seed of a cultivated tree deposited by birds or otherwise, which has germinated as a wild-form spine-bearing tree. Court accounts of Henry III of England record pears shipped from Rochelle and presented to the King by the Sheriffs of London. The French names of pears grown in English medieval gardens suggests that their reputation, at the least, was French; a favored variety in the accounts was named for Saint Rule or Regul', bishop of Senlis.
Asian species with medium to large edible fruit include P. pyrifolia, P. ussuriensis, P. ×bretschneideri, P. ×sinkiangensis, and P. pashia. Other small-fruited species are frequently used as rootstocks for the cultivated species. Etymology: Also called "Baerikkai" in Tamil


Pears are native to coastal and mildly temperate regions of the Old World, from western Europe and north Africa east right across Asia. They are medium sized trees, reaching 10–17 m tall, often with a tall, narrow crown; a few species are shrubby. The leaves are alternately arranged, simple, 2–12 cm long, glossy green on some species, densely silvery-hairy in some others; leaf shape varies from broad oval to narrow lanceolate. Most pears are deciduous, but one or two species in southeast Asia are evergreen. Most are cold-hardy, withstanding temperatures between −25 °C and −40 °C in winter, except for the evergreen species, which only tolerate temperatures down to about −15 °C.
The flowers are white, rarely tinted yellow or pink, 2–4 cm diameter, and have five petals. Like that of the related apple, the pear fruit is a pome, in most wild species 1–4 cm diameter, but in some cultivated forms up to 18 cm long and 8 cm broad; the shape varies in most species from oblate or globose, to the classic pyriform 'pear-shape' of the European Pear with an elongated basal portion and a bulbous end.
The pear is very similar to the apple in cultivation, propagation and pollination.
There are about 30 primary species, major subspecies, and naturally occurring interspecific hybrid of pears.

Major recognized taxa


The pear may be readily raised by sowing the pips of ordinary cultivated or of wilding kinds, these forming what are known as free or pear stocks, on which the choicer varieties are grafted for increase. For new varieties the flowers can be cross-bred to preserve or combine desirable traits. The fruit of the pear is produced on spurs, which appear on shoots more than one year old.


Summer and autumn pears are gathered before they are fully ripe, while they are still green, but snap off when lifted. If left to ripen and turn yellow on the tree, the sugars will turn to starch crystals and the pear will have gritty texture inside. In the case of the 'Passe Crassane', long the favored winter pear in France, the crop should be gathered at three different times, the first a fortnight or more before it is ripe, the second a week or ten days after that, and the third when fully ripe. The first gathering will come into eating latest, and thus the season of the fruit may be considerably prolonged.

Diseases and pests


Three species account for the vast majority of edible fruit production, the European Pear Pyrus communis cultivated mainly in Europe and North America, the Chinese white pear (bai li) Pyrus ×bretschneideri, and the Nashi Pear Pyrus pyrifolia (also known as Asian Pear or Apple Pear), both grown mainly in eastern Asia. There are thousands of cultivars of these three species. A species grown in western China, P. sinkiangensis, and P. pashia, grown in southern China and south Asia, are also produced to a lesser degree.
Other species are used as rootstocks for European and Asian pears and as ornamental trees. The Siberian Pear, Pyrus ussuriensis (which produces unpalatable fruit) has been crossed with Pyrus communis to breed hardier pear cultivars. The Bradford Pear (Pyrus calleryana 'Bradford') in particular has become widespread in North America and is used only as an ornamental tree. The Willow-leafed Pear (Pyrus salicifolia) is grown for its attractive slender, densely silvery-hairy leaves.
Pears are consumed fresh, canned, as juice, and dried. The juice can also be used in jellies and jams, usually in combination with other fruits or berries. Fermented pear juice is called perry.
Pears will ripen faster if placed next to bananas in a fruit bowl. They stay fresh for longer if kept in a fridge.
Pears are the least allergenic of all fruits. Along with lamb and soya formula, pears form part of the strictest exclusion diet for allergy sufferers.
Pear wood is one of the preferred materials in the manufacture of high-quality woodwind instruments and furniture.
It is also used for wood carving, and as a firewood to produce aromatic smoke for smoking meat or tobacco.



External links

pear in Arabic: كمثرى
pear in Min Nan: Lâi-á
pear in Bulgarian: Круша
pear in Catalan: Perera
pear in Czech: Hruška
pear in Welsh: Gellygen
pear in Danish: Pære
pear in German: Birnen
pear in Estonian: Pirn
pear in Modern Greek (1453-): Αχλαδιά
pear in Spanish: Pera
pear in Esperanto: Piro
pear in Basque: Madariondo
pear in Persian: گلابی
pear in French: Poire
pear in Friulian: Piruçâr
pear in Galician: Pereira
pear in Upper Sorbian: Krušwina
pear in Italian: Pera
pear in Hebrew: אגס
pear in Latin: Pyrus
pear in Lithuanian: Kriaušė
pear in Hungarian: Körte
pear in Dutch: Peer (vrucht)
pear in Japanese: ナシ属
pear in Narom: Peire
pear in Occitan (post 1500): Pera
pear in Polish: Grusza
pear in Portuguese: Pêra
pear in Quechua: Pira
pear in Russian: Груша
pear in Simple English: Pear
pear in Slovenian: Hruška
pear in Serbian: Крушка
pear in Finnish: Päärynä
pear in Swedish: Päronsläktet
pear in Thai: สาลี่
pear in Turkish: Armut
pear in Walloon: Poere
pear in Contenese: 梨
pear in Samogitian: Grūšė
pear in Chinese: 梨
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