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Useful Temperate Plants

Pyrus communis

L.

Rosaceae


The taxonomy of this species is very confusing. We are using Pyrus communis to refer to the wild pear and, since there are no significant differences in the way they are used, we are treating all the wild subspecies under this heading. The cultivated pear, widely grown as a fruit crop, is treated under Pyrus communis sativa (DC.) DC.[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
].
In spite of their wide geographic distribution, the various species in the genus Pyrus are intercrossable without major incompatibility barriers. Also, the high morphological diversity and the lack of distinguishing characters among the species have been reported. Therefore, the classification of species in this genus is problematic and often confusing, giving different populations designated as different species by some authors. It is likely that, when the genus is reviewed, there will be several changes to the nomenclature[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
].

+ Synonyms

Pyrus asiae-mediae (Popov) Maleev

Pyrus balansae Decne.

Pyrus bourgaeana Decne.

Pyrus elata Rubtzov

Pyrus medvedevii Rubtzov

Pyrus sosnovskyi Fedorov

Pyrus vsevolodii Heideman

Common Name: Wild Pear

Pyrus communis
Tree in winter
Photograph by: Roland zh
Creative Commons License
Pyrus communis Pyrus communis Pyrus communis Pyrus communis

General Information

Pyrus communis is a deciduous tree with a broad, oval crown or occasionally a shrub; it can range in height from 5 - 30 metres tall. A very variable plant in all its characters; including the size and shape of the crown; the presence or absence of spines; the shape of the leaves; the degree of pubescence, etc; but especially in the size, shape, and taste of the fruit[
74
Title
Flora of the USSR.
Publication
 
Author
Komarov. V. L.
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org
Publisher
Israel Program for Scientific Translation
Year
1968
ISBN
-
Description
An immense (25 or more large volumes) and not yet completed translation of the Russian flora. Full of information on plant uses and habitats but heavy going for casual readers. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
,
1145
Title
AgroAtlas
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.agroatlas.ru/en/index.html
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An on-line database of economic plants of Russia and the surrounding countries that formed the USSR, giving botanical descriptions, distribution, habitats and uses. It also gives comprehensive information on climate, soil, pests, diseases etc
]. The plants often sucker freely, and can form dense thickets[
186
Title
Planting Native Trees and Shrubs.
Publication
 
Author
Beckett. G. and K.
Publisher
Jarrold
Year
1979
ISBN
-
Description
An excellent guide to native British trees and shrubs with lots of details about the plants.
].
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a food and a medicine. It is sometimes sold in local markets. The wood is an excellent timber, valued by cabinet makers, but generally only available in small quantities.

Known Hazards

Although no specific information has been seen for this plant, the seed of many species in the family Rosaceae are likely to contain cyanogenic glycosides. When injested, these compounds break down in the digestive tract to release cyanide. Used in small quantities in both traditional and conventional medicine, this exceedingly poisonous compound has been shown to stimulate respiration, improve digestion, and promote a sense of well-being[
238
Title
Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses.
Publication
 
Author
Bown. D.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley, London.
Year
1995
ISBN
0-7513-020-31
Description
A very well presented and informative book on herbs from around the globe. Plenty in it for both the casual reader and the serious student. Just one main quibble is the silly way of having two separate entries for each plant.
]. It is also claimed by some to be of benefit in the treatment of cancer - though this claim has been largely refuted.
In larger concentrations, however, cyanide can cause gasping, weakness, excitement, pupil dilation, spasms, convulsions, coma and respiratory failure leading to death[
293
Title
Poisonous Plants of North Carolina
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/consumer/poison/poison.htm
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent concise but comprehensive guide to toxic plants that grow in N. Carolina. It lists even those plants that are of very low toxicity, including several well-known food plants such as carrots and potatoes.
].
The levels of toxin can be detected by the level of bitterness:- sweet almonds, for example, contain only very low levels of it and are safe to eat in quantity, whilst bitter almonds (which are used as a flavouring in foods such as marzipan) contain much higher levels and should only be eaten in very small quantities. Great caution should be employed if the taste is moderately to very bitter[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
].

Botanical References

11
Title
Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement.
Publication
 
Author
Bean. W.
Publisher
Murray
Year
1981
ISBN
-
Description
A classic with a wealth of information on the plants, but poor on pictures.
,
17
Title
Flora of the British Isles.
Publication
 
Author
Clapham, Tutin and Warburg.
Publisher
Cambridge University Press
Year
1962
ISBN
-
Description
A very comprehensive flora, the standard reference book but it has no pictures.
,
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.

Range

Eurasia - Estonia to Spain, east through Ukraine to Kyrgyzstan, through Greece to Turkey and the Caucasus

Habitat

Hedges, woodland margins etc in Britain[
17
Title
Flora of the British Isles.
Publication
 
Author
Clapham, Tutin and Warburg.
Publisher
Cambridge University Press
Year
1962
ISBN
-
Description
A very comprehensive flora, the standard reference book but it has no pictures.
]. Deciduous, sometimes coniferous, forests and shrub thickets, growing in deep soils and sometimes forming pure stands; at elevations up to 2,000 metres in the Caucasus[
74
Title
Flora of the USSR.
Publication
 
Author
Komarov. V. L.
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org
Publisher
Israel Program for Scientific Translation
Year
1968
ISBN
-
Description
An immense (25 or more large volumes) and not yet completed translation of the Russian flora. Full of information on plant uses and habitats but heavy going for casual readers. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
].

Properties

Edibility Rating *  *
Medicinal Rating *  *
Other Uses Rating *  *  *
HabitDeciduous Tree
Height13.00 m
PollinatorsBees, Insects
Cultivation StatusWild

Cultivation Details

Pyrus communis is a very hardy plant, tolerating temperatures down to below -20°c when dormant[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
].
Prefers a good well-drained loam in full sun[
1
Title
RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956
Publication
 
Author
F. Chittendon.
Publisher
Oxford University Press
Year
1951
ISBN
-
Description
Comprehensive listing of species and how to grow them. Somewhat outdated, it has been replaced in 1992 by a new dictionary (see [200]).
,
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
]. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Tolerates light shade but does not fruit so well in such a position. Tolerates atmospheric pollution, excessive moisture and a range of soil types, if they are moderately fertile[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
], avoiding only the most acid soils[
186
Title
Planting Native Trees and Shrubs.
Publication
 
Author
Beckett. G. and K.
Publisher
Jarrold
Year
1979
ISBN
-
Description
An excellent guide to native British trees and shrubs with lots of details about the plants.
]. Dislikes very exposed positions[
186
Title
Planting Native Trees and Shrubs.
Publication
 
Author
Beckett. G. and K.
Publisher
Jarrold
Year
1979
ISBN
-
Description
An excellent guide to native British trees and shrubs with lots of details about the plants.
]. Established plants are drought tolerant[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
].
This species includes both the wild and the cultivated forms of pear, and is usually divided into a number of subspecies. We are including all the wild subspecies of pear here under Pyrus communis. The cultivated forms, derived from the wild Pyrus communis without hybridization, are given a separate entry under Pyrus communis sativa(DC.) DC[
74
Title
Flora of the USSR.
Publication
 
Author
Komarov. V. L.
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org
Publisher
Israel Program for Scientific Translation
Year
1968
ISBN
-
Description
An immense (25 or more large volumes) and not yet completed translation of the Russian flora. Full of information on plant uses and habitats but heavy going for casual readers. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
,
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
]. The cultivated forms are distinguished by their absence of spines and by larger, generally tastier fruits[
74
Title
Flora of the USSR.
Publication
 
Author
Komarov. V. L.
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org
Publisher
Israel Program for Scientific Translation
Year
1968
ISBN
-
Description
An immense (25 or more large volumes) and not yet completed translation of the Russian flora. Full of information on plant uses and habitats but heavy going for casual readers. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
].
The utilization of wild pear fruits is of great importance in Ciscaucasia, where in the Krasnodar Territory alone, according to Trusevich, pear forests with an admixture of apple trees occupy 30,347 hectares, and the possible yield (together with the apples) is estimated at 139 thousand tons[
74
Title
Flora of the USSR.
Publication
 
Author
Komarov. V. L.
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org
Publisher
Israel Program for Scientific Translation
Year
1968
ISBN
-
Description
An immense (25 or more large volumes) and not yet completed translation of the Russian flora. Full of information on plant uses and habitats but heavy going for casual readers. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
].
There are two basic forms of this plant, differing mainly in shape of the fruit, with numerous varieties and forms. Achras plants have pyriform fruits whilst Pyraster forms have globose fruits. These two basic types are sometimes described as separate species, but there is no basis for this differentiation[
74
Title
Flora of the USSR.
Publication
 
Author
Komarov. V. L.
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org
Publisher
Israel Program for Scientific Translation
Year
1968
ISBN
-
Description
An immense (25 or more large volumes) and not yet completed translation of the Russian flora. Full of information on plant uses and habitats but heavy going for casual readers. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
].
The wild pear is a parent of the cultivated pear, possibly by crossing with Pyrus nivalis and Pyrus cordata[
11
Title
Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement.
Publication
 
Author
Bean. W.
Publisher
Murray
Year
1981
ISBN
-
Description
A classic with a wealth of information on the plants, but poor on pictures.
]. There are many hundreds of varieties of cultivated pears and they are widely cultivated in the temperate zone for their edible fruits. By selection of varieties fresh fruits can be obtained from late July to April or May of the following year.

Edible Uses

Fruit - raw or cooked[
2
Title
Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World.
Publication
 
Author
Hedrick. U. P.
Publisher
Dover Publications
Year
1972
ISBN
0-486-20459-6
Description
Lots of entries, quite a lot of information in most entries and references.
,
5
Title
Food for Free.
Publication
 
Author
Mabey. R.
Publisher
Collins
Year
1974
ISBN
0-00-219060-5
Description
Edible wild plants found in Britain. Fairly comprehensive, very few pictures and rather optimistic on the desirability of some of the plants.
]. The fruit of wild pears often remains very hard unless bletted[
186
Title
Planting Native Trees and Shrubs.
Publication
 
Author
Beckett. G. and K.
Publisher
Jarrold
Year
1979
ISBN
-
Description
An excellent guide to native British trees and shrubs with lots of details about the plants.
]. It is more suitable for use in pies etc. The fruit is up to 5cm long[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
].
Wild pear fruits are usually tart, becoming sweeter if stored. They are used in various ways depending on their gustatory qualities: they are eaten raw or dried, stewed, or used for making of drinks (kvass, perry, cider)[
74
Title
Flora of the USSR.
Publication
 
Author
Komarov. V. L.
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org
Publisher
Israel Program for Scientific Translation
Year
1968
ISBN
-
Description
An immense (25 or more large volumes) and not yet completed translation of the Russian flora. Full of information on plant uses and habitats but heavy going for casual readers. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
].
Wild pear fruits contain 70 - 85% water, 6 - 13% sugar, 0.1 - 0.2% acids (mainly citric and malic), 0.29% ash, tannins, etc[
74
Title
Flora of the USSR.
Publication
 
Author
Komarov. V. L.
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org
Publisher
Israel Program for Scientific Translation
Year
1968
ISBN
-
Description
An immense (25 or more large volumes) and not yet completed translation of the Russian flora. Full of information on plant uses and habitats but heavy going for casual readers. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
].

Medicinal

The fruit is astringent, febrifuge and sedative[
240
Title
Glossary of Indian Medicinal Plants (Including the Supplement).
Publication
 
Author
Chopra. R. N., Nayar. S. L. and Chopra. I. C.
Publisher
Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, New Delhi.
Year
1986
ISBN
-
Description
Very terse details of medicinal uses of plants with a wide range of references and details of research into the plants chemistry. Not for the casual reader.
].

Agroforestry Uses:

Trees are sometimes used as part of a shelterbelt planting[
227
Title
Trees of North Texas
Publication
 
Author
Vines. R.A.
Publisher
University of Texas Press.
Year
1982
ISBN
0292780206
Description
A readable guide to the area, it contains descriptions of the plants and their habitats with quite a bit of information on plant uses.
].

Other Uses

A yellow-tan dye is obtained from the leaves[
106
Title
The Dictionary of Useful Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Coon. N.
Publisher
Rodale Press
Year
1975
ISBN
0-87857-090-x
Description
Interesting reading but short on detail.
,
115
Title
The Useful Plants of Great Britain.
Publication
 
Author
Johnson. C. P.
Publisher
 
Year
 
ISBN
 
Description
Written about a hundred years ago, but still a very good guide to the useful plants of Britain.
].
A light brown dye is obtained from the bark[
74
Title
Flora of the USSR.
Publication
 
Author
Komarov. V. L.
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org
Publisher
Israel Program for Scientific Translation
Year
1968
ISBN
-
Description
An immense (25 or more large volumes) and not yet completed translation of the Russian flora. Full of information on plant uses and habitats but heavy going for casual readers. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
].

The seeds contain 12 - 21% fatty oils[
74
Title
Flora of the USSR.
Publication
 
Author
Komarov. V. L.
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org
Publisher
Israel Program for Scientific Translation
Year
1968
ISBN
-
Description
An immense (25 or more large volumes) and not yet completed translation of the Russian flora. Full of information on plant uses and habitats but heavy going for casual readers. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
].

The reddish-brown wood is fine grained, heavy, hard, tough, durable. It weighs 51lb per cubic foot[
227
Title
Trees of North Texas
Publication
 
Author
Vines. R.A.
Publisher
University of Texas Press.
Year
1982
ISBN
0292780206
Description
A readable guide to the area, it contains descriptions of the plants and their habitats with quite a bit of information on plant uses.
]. An excellent timber, it is used by cabinet and musical instrument makers and for lathework[
11
Title
Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement.
Publication
 
Author
Bean. W.
Publisher
Murray
Year
1981
ISBN
-
Description
A classic with a wealth of information on the plants, but poor on pictures.
,
61
Title
A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man.
Publication
 
Author
Usher. G.
Publisher
Constable
Year
1974
ISBN
0094579202
Description
Forget the sexist title, this is one of the best books on the subject. Lists a very extensive range of useful plants from around the world with very brief details of the uses. Not for the casual reader.
,
74
Title
Flora of the USSR.
Publication
 
Author
Komarov. V. L.
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org
Publisher
Israel Program for Scientific Translation
Year
1968
ISBN
-
Description
An immense (25 or more large volumes) and not yet completed translation of the Russian flora. Full of information on plant uses and habitats but heavy going for casual readers. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
,
100
Title
Flowers of Europe - A Field Guide.
Publication
 
Author
Polunin. O.
Publisher
Oxford University Press
Year
1969
ISBN
0192176218
Description
An excellent and well illustrated pocket guide for those with very large pockets. Also gives some details on plant uses.
,
149
Title
Trees of Central Texas.
Publication
 
Author
Vines. R. A.
Publisher
University of Texas Press
Year
1987
ISBN
0-292-78958-3
Description
A good, concise guide, it gives details of habitats and some of the uses of trees growing in Texas.
]. When covered with black varnish it is an excellent ebony substitute[
74
Title
Flora of the USSR.
Publication
 
Author
Komarov. V. L.
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org
Publisher
Israel Program for Scientific Translation
Year
1968
ISBN
-
Description
An immense (25 or more large volumes) and not yet completed translation of the Russian flora. Full of information on plant uses and habitats but heavy going for casual readers. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
].

Propagation

Seed - best sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe in the autumn, it will then usually germinate in mid to late winter. Stored seed requires 8 - 10 weeks cold stratification at 1°c and should be sown as early in the year as possible[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
]. Temperatures over 15 - 20°c induce a secondary dormancy in the seed[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
]. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in light shade in a cold frame or greenhouse for their first year. Plant them out in late spring or early summer of the following year.
Cite as: Temperate Plants Database, Ken Fern. temperate.theferns.info. 2019-08-18. <temperate.theferns.info/plant/Pyrus+communis>

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