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Asian pear tree (Pyrus pyrifolia) Profile

Written by Iris

Aug 17 2021

Asian pear tree (Pyrus pyrifolia) Profile
Asian pears are a large group of pears that have a crunchy texture when fully ripe, unlike European pears that must be softened before eating. Asian pears are self-bred, but produce better harvests when two or more varieties are grown together. Colder summers delay the ripening process, but warmer summers speed it up.

Asian pear tree (Pyrus pyrifolia) Picture

 Asian pear tree

Asian pear tree (Pyrus pyrifolia) Info

Botanical Name Pyrus pyrifolia
Common Names Asian pear, Korean pear, Japanese pear, Taiwanese pear, Chinese pear, apple pear, zodiac pear, papple, sand pear
Plant Type Fruit, tree
Mature Size  30–40 ft. tall, 30–40 ft. wide
Sun Exposure  Full
Soil Type  Loamy, sandy, well-drained
Soil pH  Acidic to neutral (6 to 8)
Bloom Time  Spring

Ecological Habits of Asian pear tree (Pyrus pyrifolia)

Pyrus pyrifolia is a deciduous tree with alternate symmetrical, teardrop-shaped leaves. The small white flowers grow in clusters and cover the entire tree during the spring. Tree size ranges from 8-20 feet tall depending on the rootstock. The Asian pear is in the Rosaceae family along with apples, cherries, apricots, and plums (just to name a few). Growth and development are similar to apple trees. They bloom in the spring, the fruit tree develops over the summer, and is ready to pick at the end of summer and through the fall. In the winter, the trees drop all their leaves and go dormant. During the winter, the trees must reach a certain number of chill hours to produce fruit for the following season.
Asian pear tree (Pyrus pyrifolia) Distribution Area
Asian pears were brought to this country over 160 years ago by immigrants wanting to bring a familiar food to their new home but the fruit did not become widely popular here until the 1980's. Because they are round they are often called “apple pears” and sometimes are referred to as “water pears” because they are so juicy.
Asian pear tree

How to Grow and Care for Asian pear tree (Pyrus pyrifolia)

How to Grow Asian pear tree (Pyrus pyrifolia) 

  • With Cuttings
Regardless of whether you take softwood or semi-hardwood, you'll need to measure a section that begins at the tip of the branch and reaches about six to eight inches back along the stem.
Cut it away from the tree with the pruning shears. You'll need to take at least three to six cuttings as not all will necessarily be successful. If you can, take them from two different cultivars.
Next, trim off all the leaves and any buds present on the bottom two-thirds of the cutting. New roots will actually grow from the leaf nodes.
Gently scrape off the outer bark along the bottom inch or two of the stem and around the leaf nodes, and then dip the bottom portion into your powdered rooting hormone or cloning gel.
It can take a while for the cuttings to form roots: from a few weeks to a few months. So be patient, and keep those little pear tree hopefuls warm and moist for as long as you need to.
  • With Grafting
Onto hardier pear rootstock. Rootstocks that are compatible with Asian Pears include Pyrus betulaefolia, P. calleryana, P. serotina, P. ussuriensis and P. communis. Although there are many ways to graft, a whip graft will work with Asian pears. A whip graft is best for connecting a scion and rootstock that is less than half an inch in diameter.
Cut a one-foot scion from the donor tree. Cut this scion about one foot long and trim the top just above the topmost bud on the scion. Cut the bottom off just above a bud.
A whip graft is best for connecting a scion and rootstock that is less than half an inch in diameter.
Make a diagonal cut 1 1/2 inch long at the bottom of the scion.
Make a straight cut down into the scion starting about halfway down the diagonal cut.
Make an identical cut on the root stock. These two cuts will form two tongues that will mate and allow the cambium, or live growing wood of the root stock, and the scion to match up and grow together.
Slip the tongue of the scion into the tongue of the rootstock.
Tape the union securely with grafting tape.
Cover the grafting tape and graft with grafting compound to seal and secure the graft. Grafting tape and compound will help keep disease from becoming established in the fresh graft.
Make a diagonal cut 1 1/2 inch long at the bottom of the scion.
Make a straight cut down into the scion starting about halfway down the diagonal cut.
Remove the tape and grafting compound when you see new growth on the scion.
Asian pear tree

How to Care for Asian pear tree (Pyrus pyrifolia)

  • Light
Asian pears should be planted in the full sun. Avoid planting in wet low lying areas or frost pockets.
  • Soil
Asian pears like well-drained loamy soils with a pH between 6.0 and 7.0. Trees will survive in nutrient-poor soils, but they will not produce as expected.
  • Water
Water the Asian pear tree (Pyrus pyrifolia) well as soon as you plant it. Water the tree at least once a week for the first year after planting.
  • Temperature and Humidity
Asian pear trees are cold-hardy, and they actually need a chill period over the winter where temperatures are below 45 degrees Fahrenheit for at least 50 to 70 days.
  • Asian Pear Pollination
Asian pears are partially self-fertile. In other words, they will produce some fruit on their own, but will produce more fruit if additional Asian pears are planted nearby. European Pears and Asian pears can pollinate each other as long as the varieties you choose bloom at the same time. Mason bees can also be used to improve pollination.
  • Fruit Thinning
Asian pear trees have a habit of producing way more fruit than the tree can support. Remove excess fruit when they are still small. This will redirect the plants energy into the remaining fruit – thereby improving size and quality.
  • Fertilizer
Because vigorous growth is more susceptible to fire blight, fertilizer should be applied only in limited amounts. After growth begins for first year trees, ½ cup of 13-13-13 should be spread in a circle about 6 inches away from the trunk. For the first four seasons, increase the amount by ½ cup each year and then continue with about two cups each year thereafter.
  • Pruning
First year pruning sets the eventual shape of the tree. If your tree is taller than 4-5′ above ground, after it’s planted, trim it down to that height. Pick out the dominant branch that is the most vertical at the top of the tree. This will be your central leader. Thin out the inward growing branches and any branches which are crossing over each other. Trim off the tips of the larger branches to encourage growth. See the illustration below for a before and after look at the branches.
Asian pear tree

Varieties of Asian pear tree (Pyrus pyrifolia)

There are a few ways to group Asian pear tree varieties. The most common one and useful for home gardeners will be dividing Asian pear cultivars into 3 groups depending on their fruit ripening time.
Asian pears ripen in different times starting from mid summer till late autumn.
Early ripening Asian pear tree varieties (July-August): Kosui, Shinseiki, Chojuro, Ichiban, Hamese.
Mid season ripening (late summer-beginning of fall): Shinko, Hosui, Yoinashi, 20th Century (Nijisseiki) Asian Pear tree.
Late season (ripens in October-November) – Korean Giant (Olympian), Tsu Li, Sauri.
Asian pear tree

Asian pear tree (Pyrus pyrifolia) Common Pests/Diseases

The best defense against pests and diseases is to provide the plants with lots of sun, air drainage, adequate water drainage for the soil, and deep supplemental irrigation in the summer. Pears are susceptible to certain diseases and pests, and monitoring for problems is a good idea.
Good garden hygiene is also important. Use sharp, clean pruners to prevent damage and the spread of disease from other plants. Cleaning up dead leaves beneath the plants in the spring is also a good practice. This will help eliminate any diseases or pests which may have overwintered there.
Asian pear tree

Harvesting and Storing Asian Pears

Asian pear trees hold their fruit until completely ripe in mid to late autumn, depending on variety. When wind knocks a few fruits to the ground, I start testing for ripeness by rocking fruits back and forth in my hand. Those that break off naturally are ripe. Asian pears bruise easily, so I handle them like eggs while gathering and cleaning them. The ripe fruits must be stored in the refrigerator, or they will deteriorate quickly. A tree's worth of fruits will overrun a fridge, though it's easy to make good trades with this gourmet fruit. Still, there are extras. Of the many methods I've tried for preserving Asian pears, I like drying best. A quick run through the dehydrator concentrates the sugars in Asian pear slices while causing the crisp flesh to change to leathery. The result is a delicious dried fruit to eat out of hand or add to hot cooked cereals. Cut into small tidbits, dried Asian pear can be substituted for raisins in most recipes.

Asian pear tree (Pyrus pyrifolia) Companion Plants

Pear trees can be susceptible to pests, so surround them with companion plants that counteract that: Try clover, african marigolds, nasturtiums, borage, bee balm, beans, or peas.