Garden Oracle / Drought and Heat Tolerant Gardening / Tucson - Phoenix - Arizona - California

Growing Asian Pears:
Pyrus pyrifolia

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Botanical Overview

Asian Pears are members of the Rose family and the Pyrus genus, which contains 23 species, found in Asia, Europe, North Africa and around the Mediterranean. Only two species are commercially grown, Pyrus communis, the European pear, and Pyrus pyrifolia, the Asian pear. Dozens of Asian Pear cultivars have appeared in North America.

Description

Form: Tree.
Lifespan: 50-150 years.
Leaf retention: Deciduous.
Growth rate: Moderate.
Mature Size: 30' high and as wide. Dwarf cultivars can be 6-18' high.
Flowers: White, five petals, fragrant.
Bloom: Late winter or spring, before leaves have fully expanded.
Self-fruitful: Depends on cultivar. Another pyrus cultivar of similar bloom time within 50' will improve yield.
Years before fruiting: 4-6.
Fruit: Speckled tan skin, or spotted yellow-green skin. Japanese cultivars are usually apple shaped. Chinese cultivars are pear-shaped. The flesh is juicy, firm, grainy, and crisp. The fruit contains five seeds, like an apple.
Months for fruit to ripen: 4-7. Fruit should be allowed to fully ripen on the tree. They are ripe when they are strongly fragrant. They do not soften when ripe like the European Pear.
Storage after harvest: Fruit will continue to ripen at room temperature if picked early. They will store 2-3 months in a refrigerator with good air circulation.
Leaves: Green, broadly lance-shaped, finely serrated or smooth edges.
Stems: No thorns.
Roots: Often grafted onto quince rootstock.
Cultivars of Note:
'Shinseiki' 250-300 chill hours, self-fruitful, height is rootstock dependent.
Wildlife: The flowers attract bees, the fruit attracts birds.
Toxic / Danger: No. Seeds are slightly poisonous if chewed, but no danger swallowed whole. A large number of chewed seeds would have to be consumed to have a serious effect.
Origin: China. Cultivated for more than 3000 years.

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Cultivation and Uses

USDA hardiness zones: 5-9.
Chill hours: 400-500 is common. A few cultivars need 250-300 hours and these are the best choice for USDA zones 8-10.
Heat tolerant: Yes, for certain cultivars.
Drought tolerant: Yes, when established.
Sun: Full sun to light shade.
Planting: Locate in full sun and away from low-lying areas, where cold air collects, to reduce the possibility of late frost damage to flowers.
Soil: Well drained, deep, tolerant otherwise, withstands pH 5.0-7.5 (strongly acidic to neutral) but performs best in pH 6.0-6.5 (slightly acidic).
Fertilize: If an Asian Pear is growing more than one foot a year, it doesn't need fertilizer. Too much nitrogen increases its susceptibility to Fire Blight.
Water after becoming established: Deep water weekly when fruiting, every two weeks to monthly, depending on temperature, when not fruiting. Too much water increases susceptibility to Fire Blight, and also induces iron deficiency in pH neutral soil, indicated by yellow leaves.
Mulch: Spread organic mulch inside the drip line and 8" away from the trunk to reduce moisture loss and moderate soil temperatures.
Prune: Remove young fruit when marble sized so that no more than one fruit remains for every 6" of branch. This reduces branch breakage and allows remaining fruit to grow larger.
Litter: Leaves in fall, unharvested wet fruit.
Propagation: Grafting is performed in late winter when the rootstock is still dormant. Softwood cuttings can be rooted in a pot with starter mix and placed in a humid environment with indirect sun and kept at a 70°F minimum temperature. Seed will not grow true to type and seedlings should be grown in pots in a shaded environment for the first year.
Pests: Fire Blight, although Asian pear is less of a risk than the European pear.
Uses: Ornamental, edible fruit. This pear is eaten out of hand or used raw in salads. Its high water content means that special care must be used when cooking.

Comments

These trees have many names, including Sand Pear and Apple Pear.


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Asian Pear: Pyrus pyrifolia - flower

Asian Pear: Pyrus pyrifolia - leaves

Asian Pear: Pyrus pyrifolia - fruit


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Latest update: February, 2021