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Pear Tree Varieties - Differences Between Asian and European Pear Trees

The pear fruit tree belongs to the genus Pyrus. Pears have a long history of cultivation. There is evidence that pears may even be prehistoric, and in the rendition of the Odyssey, the author mentions pears and how their excellent fruit was extolled. Does the modern garden not need to also include this notable fruit tree?

There are many species of pears and hybrids that have been produced over the years. Garden articles have been written to suggest a different variety of pear for a different end use. The Romans wrote about pears in books and suggested recipes for cooking them, rather than eating them raw. The Chinese have cultivated pears for over 3000 years. Modern pear usage is quite high, and China is purported to grow the most pear fruit in the world at this time. Garden pear trees that we grow today all developed from many years of work by our ancestors and modern pear tree breeders.

Among the many varieties of pear trees, there are two main categories, the Asian and the European pear. The European pear varieties are headlined by the Bartlett pear, mainly because of the Bartlett pear’s long history of superior production and taste. Asian pears, as the title would suggest, attain their sweet crisp taste from their Chinese and Asian heritage.

Asian pears are known by several names, such as Chinese, Japanese, sand pear, and apple pear. The apple pear is so named because of the resemblance of Asian pears to apples, as the Asian pear is rounder than a European pear, and it is crunchier. Asian pears are crisp and juicy, and they have a tang of tartness near the core. European pears are soft, juicy and have a more mellow taste. The Asian pear tree should have a companion Asian pear planted close by to assist with pollination. Many of the European pear trees are self-fruitful and do not need a pollinator, but another European pear, such as the Bartlett, will increase fruit production.

Both the European pear and the Asian pear do best in a soil pH between 5.9 and 6.5. Garden articles will generally mention pear trees as an easy fruit to grow and care for. A recent garden article about Asian pear production mentioned that fruit set may sometimes be too heavy with Asian pears, so fruit thinning is advised when the pears are about the size of a dime. Fruit thinning will help prevent branch breakage and increase fruit size.

One of the most common pears found in grocery stores is the Bartlett pear. Bartlett is one the varieties of pears that is the most recognizable to all pear fruit lovers. Pears, such as the Bartlett, produce fruit that is very low in saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium. The Bartlett also contains significant amounts of copper and vitamin K.

Articles have extolled the pear as being a very good source of vitamin C and high in dietary fiber. Being rich in vitamin C, pears have been purported in published articles to have antioxidant properties, and are said to protect body cells from damage caused by free radicals. Articles have described the pear as a hypoallergenic fruit that is less likely to produce an adverse response than other fruits. Pears are an ideal weight loss food since 98% of their energy is from carbohydrates, which contain half the calories as fat.

There is a group of pear trees named ornamental pears. These pears do not produce fruit, or if they do produce a fruit, the fruit is small, hard, bitter, and inedible. Ornamental pear trees, such as the Chanticleer pear, belong in this fruitless category. Chanticleer pears are grown for their gorgeous white flowers, and many Chanticleer pear trees adorn thousands of yards in the United States. Chanticleer pears produce fruit that is pea sized and is barely noticeable. Ornamental varieties are not categorized with fruit trees even though they are named ornamental pear trees.

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