Most pears sold in markets and grown in gardens are derived from Pyrus communis, a Euro- pean species. Some selections are of pure European stock; these are noted for their soft, juicy, sweet flesh and are good for fresh eating. Others are European hybrids; they share many of the qualities of purely European pears but tolerate more heat and need less winter chill. A few, classified as hard pears, are hybrids of European and Asian species; these have coarse or gritty flesh and are usually used for canning or baking.
Trees are generally pyramidal in form, with strongly vertical branching, and grow 3040 ft. tall (or taller) and 1525 ft. wide. Pears on dwarfing understocks are good for small gardens; they range from one-half to three-fourths the size of standard trees. Dwarf pears have not performed particularly well in the South, but gardeners may wish to try them. All types have leathery, glossy, bright green leaves and bear handsome clusters of white flowers in early spring. Pears also make excellent espaliers. For ornamental pears grown for flowers and foliage, see Pyrus.
Thinning the fruit isn't usually necessary. Harvest season is July through October, depending on the selection. Fruit doesn't ripen properly on the tree, so pick when it is full size but unripe (firm and green), then store in a cool, dark place until ripe.