There are two basic types of pear trees: European and Asian. The European pear trees (Pyrus communis) are what you probably think of when you think pear—these trees produce a pear-shaped fruit with a delicate texture. The pears may be yellow, red, or brown; their skin may be russeted or smooth. European pears don’t ripen on the tree; you have to harvest them on a scheduled date depending on the variety, and then ripen them indoors.
European pear trees are among the longest-lived fruit trees; they can live 50 years or more. Some varieties of European pear trees can grow as tall as 40 feet—if you let them (we don’t recommend it). Some ornamental pear trees may live even longer.
Asian pears (Pyrus pyrifolia) are as ornamental as they are productive. They are shaped like apples and have a similar crispness. Their skin ranges from green to yellow to bronze; some have russeted skin. Unlike their European counterparts, Asian pears do ripen on the tree.
Do you grow European or Asian types of pears? Which do you prefer? Please tell us in the comments below.