Pear (It. and Span, pera; Fr. poire; Lat. pyrus) a well known fruit and fruit tree (py-rus communis) of temperate climates, belonging to the tribe pomece of the rosacea or rose family, and closely related to the apple (P. mains). "While the fruit of the pear is quite distinct in its sensible qualities from that of the apple, it is difficult to find many botanical characters to distinguish the two as different species. The branches of the pear are inclined to be thorny; the young shoots and leaves are usually smooth; the flowers pure white, with purple anthers, and the fruit generally tapering toward the stem, the base of which is not as in the apple sunk in a cavity; to this last distinction there are occasional exceptions, some varieties being shaped quite like an apple. The habit of the tree is often pyramidal, with ascending branches; its wood is very hard and close, and when dyed black is used by cabinet makers as a substitute for ebony; it is also used by engravers for coarse work; the fruit is usually sugary and melting, with concretions near the core of indurated cells which are exceedingly hard and stony.
The pear is a native of the temperate portions of Europe and the Caucasus, and was cultivated in very early times; in Pliny's day there were numerous varieties, which could not have been very choice, as he observes: "All pears whatsoever are but a heavy meat unless well boiled or baked;" indeed, there is reason to believe that the fruit has attained its present excellence within a comparatively recent period. The varieties present such wide differences that many, in-including M. Decaisne, at one time thought they must have originated from more than one species; but the experiments of Decaisne, eminent as a pomologist as well as a botanist, convinced him that they all probably have the same origin. Philip Miller, who died in 1771, enumerated above 250 varieties, 70 or 80 of which he regarded as select; at the present time, according to Decaisne, there are more than 3,000 varieties given in the various commercial and pomological catalogues; Down-ing's "Fruits and Fruit Trees of America" (1869) gives descriptions of about 970 varieties as having been cultivated in this country, and foreign and native sorts brought to notice since then will make the number considerably over 1,000; the list of the American pomological society, including only what may be regarded as standard sorts, numbers 95. Some of the many varieties have been produced by direct crossing of two established sorts; others were obtained by ameliorating inferior kinds by reproduction from seed for successive generations under conditions tending to subdue and refine each generation; this was the plan of Van Mons of Belgium, who raised during a life devoted to the pear some 80,000 seedlings in his attempts at improving the fruit. "While some excellent varieties have resulted from the direct efforts to improve the pear by various cultivators, it cannot be denied that the number of these is small when compared with those obtained by sowing seed without any system, or discovered as chance seedlings in out-of-the-way places; an American variety, the Seckel, to which no superior in quality has yet been found, is a wild seedling, the parentage of which is quite unknown, and the generally popular Duchesse d'Angouleme is an example of a chance European variety found in a hedge row.
The pear is a rather long-lived tree, several specimens in England having been known to be about 400 years old; the tree planted by Peter Stuyvesant, which stood at the corner of 13th street and 3d avenue, New York, at the time of its destruction in 1867 was more than 200 years old; and the remarkable trees near ft. high, but specimens have been known to reach 60 ft. - Pears are cultivated as standards (the stocks upon which they are budded or grafted being pear seedlings) or as dwarfs; when the pear is grafted on the thorn, the mountain ash, or the quince, its tendency to form a large tree is checked, and its forces, instead of increasing the amount of wood growth, are diverted to fruit-bearing; such trees fruit very early, and in many cases the quality of the fruit is greatly improved. The quince is the only dwarfing stock in general use, though more or less successful experiments are made with the thorn and mountain ash; although the apple is so closely related to the pear, yet when grafted on that the pear is very shortlived and useless.
The kind of quince used is the Angers, the stocks being raised from cuttings or by mound layering (see Lateeing); when, as is the case with several, a variety of pear refuses to unite with the quince, it .is double-worked, i. e., some variety which unites readily with it is budded upon the quince, and the obstinate variety is worked upon this after it has made a sufficient growth. Dwarf pear trees are comparatively short-lived, but if set in the ground so that the point of union between the pear and quince is well below the surf ace,, the pear stem will form roots of its own and the tree ultimately become a standard. Dwarf trees are suitable to gardens, as they occupy but very little space; and as they are not essentially injured by removal, a tenant can take them to another place with his other effects; but in culture for profit they are well nigh abandoned except for a very few varieties, notably the Duchesse d'Angouleme, which produce better fruit upon the quince than upon their own roots. The pear needs a good strong soil, and to have its fertility kept up by manuring; mulching around the trees, even to covering the whole surface of the ground, is somer times practised; the trees are best when formed with low heads, and they must of course have the needed pruning and other care as set forth in works on fruit culture.
Dwarf trees are usually trained in a pyramidal form, with the branches near the ground the longest, and gradually shorter near the top; in France it would seem that all the refinements of arboriculture had been expended upon the pear, and the various fanciful forms, such as the vase, cordon oblique and spirale, the palmette, and others, including ornamental hedges, will be found in the works of Du Breuil, Baltet, and others. - The pear tree has several enemies. Besides leaf-destroying insects, there are those which attack the bark, especially Harris's bark louse (aspidiotus Harrisii), which may be destroyed by a strong alkaline wash. None of the insect troubles are equal in magnitude to the blight, which will without warning suddenly destroy a large branch or a whole tree; the cause of this is not positively known, but careful observers regard it as due to a minute fungus; there is nothing to be done but to cut away the diseased portions and burn them. - Various attempts have been made to classify pears into families, such as bergamots, beur-res, etc.; but all such systems have been abandoned by most pomologists, who adopt a simpler classification, founded upon the time of ripening and general form.
The three divisions of summer, autumn, and winter pears are convenient, if not very definite, as some varieties may be regarded as late in one division or early in another; in form they vary from round, or even depressed at the ends (oblate), to pyriform, which may be distinct, with a body prolonged into a neck, or obscure, as the ovate and obconical forms; a convenient classification subdivides the three divisions founded upon the season of ripening into three classes, viz., distinct pyriform, obscure pyriform, and roundish. Out of all the thousands of varieties the number grown for profit is very small, rarely more than a dozen; and though the list may vary somewhat in different parts of the country, there are a few kinds, especially the Bartlett, which are successful and popular everywhere. Mr. P. T. Quinn, near Newark, N. J., who grows pears largely and is the author of a practical work on their culture, restricts his varieties to Bartlett, doyenne Boussock (early), Duchesse d'An-gouleme, beurre Clairgeau, Seckel (autumn), beurr6 d'Anjou, Lawrence, and Vicar of Wink-field (winter). No pear exceeds the Bartlett in popularity, though ranked by pomologists as only second class in quality; it originated in England about 1770, and being propagated by a nurseryman named Williams, it is known in Europe as Williams's Bonchretien; it was disseminated in this country by Enoch Bartlett, near Boston, and the proper name having been lost, that of Bartlett has become so firmly fixed that it is impossible to rectify it; it is much more popular here than in England, as our climate suits it better; it is a thrifty tree, comes into bearing when young, and gives abundant crops of large fruit; it succeeds so well in all parts of the country, that it is estimated that out of every 100 trees planted for profit 90 are Bartletts. The Seckel, though small, is universally popular, and no native or foreign variety yet known surpasses or even equals it in quality.
The beurre d'Anjou, of French origin, is regarded by our most eminent pomologists as combining more good qualities in a higher degree than any other single variety known. - Pears are much better if picked when mature and allowed to finish ripening in the house; almost all are improved by this treatment, while many which are of first class when treated in this way are worthless if ripened upon the tree; the color of the seeds and the ease with which the stem of the fruit parts from the tree indicate the proper time for gathering; winter varieties are left on until frosty weather, when they are picked and treated like winter apples. Considerable quantities of pears are canned, but the drying of the fruit is more practised abroad than with us. - Perry is prepared from pears in precisely the same manner that cider is made from apples; it is scarcely known in this country, but in England there are large orchards exclusively of perry pears, which are mostly coarse kinds unfit for eating; when well made, perry brings a price equal to that of some kinds of wine.
Detroit, Mich., planted by the early French settlers, must be of nearly two centuries' growth. The tree in cultivation is ordinarily about 20
Pyriform Pear - Bartlett.
Obscure pyriform or obovate Pear - Doyenne Boussoek.