The two species of pear trees are Asian pear (Pyrus serotina) and European pear (Pyrus communis). Most pear trees need cross-pollination from nearby pollen sources of trees that are common, however, some pear trees normally do not need cross-pollinators to produce fruit as they are self-fruitful. Both pear tree species have self-fruitful cultivars. Even some self-fruitful pear trees, however, might need cross-pollinators to produce fruit when they are planted in areas where their blooming period occurs during cool temperatures.
Most fruit trees rely on wind and insects to transfer pollen from their blossoms’ male reproductive parts to female parts. All fruit-bearing trees need pollination to produce fruit. The anthers in fruit tree blossoms contain pollen, and the pistils develop fruit. Reproduction parts of blossoms typically are located separately. Some pear trees produce flowers with anthers and pistils together, reducing the demand for cross-pollination for fertilization to develop fruit.
Some Asian pear trees are partially self-fruitful and tend to overproduce when cross-pollinated. Their imaginations earned the nickname “apple pears” because of their physical resemblance to apples. The two self-fruitful Asian pear cultivars that grow well in California are the “Shinseiki” and “20th Century.” “Shinseiki” trees grow best in U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) plant hardiness zones 6 through 8 and produce pears that are round with yellow skin. The “20th Century” cultivar, that is hardy in USDA zones 5 through 9, produces pears which are round, have yellow skin and are more delicious than “Shinseiki” pears. Thin Asian pear trees’ fruit to one pear a cluster to yield larger fruit and decrease stress on tree limbs.
Depending on the cultivar, European pear trees vary in size and shape, and their pears vary in juiciness. Self-fruitful cultivars include “Kieffer,” “Anjou,” “Comice,” “Duchess” and “Barlett.” “Kieffer” pear trees are hardy in USDA zones 4 through 9. “Anjou” pear trees provide oval-shaped fruits with thin, light-green skins and grow best in USDA zones 4 through 8. “Comice” and “Duchess” perform best in zones 5 through 9. The “Comice” cultivar produces round pears with short necks and stems. “Comice” and “Anjou” Sensors do not change colors once ripe. “Bartlett” pear trees grow well as self-fruitful trees in the Sacramento River delta region and in USDA zones 5 through 7. According to the University of California, the “Bartlett” cultivar makes up 75 percent of the planet’s pear production. “Bartlett” pear trees produce bell-shaped fruits which turn to yellow after ripened. Utilize “Bartlett,” “Comice” and “Anjou” pears in salads and desserts for their sweet and hot flavors.
Pear trees grow best in deep, deep well-drained dirt and are prone to insects. Harvest season for California pear trees happens from mid-July during September. Asian pears can ripen on the trees. Pick them in the trees as soon as they change color. Asian pears require careful handling after harvest to prevent excessive bruising. Harvest European pears before they ripen on the trees. Permit them to ripen at room temperature prior to ingestion.