Food Gardening Network

Growing Good Food at Home

Pear Glossary

Use this Glossary to get quick definitions or explanations of terms and concepts used in this collection, or terms that you might encounter while nurturing your own pear trees.

Pear-specific terms:

Anjou Pear: This European variety is a high producer, and you can expect a crop of pale green pears with just a touch of russeting.  Anjou pears can be stored for up to two months and are perfect for eating, canning, and baking.

Bartlett Pear: These European pears are ranked #1 worldwide.  They can be stored for up to three months and are juicy, sweet, and tender.  Bartlett pears are perfect for eating, canning, and preserves.

 Bitter rot: This is a fungal disease that affects the fruit of apple and pear trees.

Bitter Rot is easily spread and the infected fruit decays as it ripens, eventually shriveling into a mummy.

 Bosc Pear: This European variety is often called the aristocrat of pears. In the fall, they produce a heavy crop of long-necked, cinnamon-colored pears. Bosc pears can be stored for up to three months and are great for eating, canning, and baking.

Chill Hours: The number of hours a plant needs to have cold-weather conditions, with a temperature below 45 degrees F, in order to bloom and bear fruit the following year.

 DAFB: Days After First Bloom. This is the time calculation for harvesting European pears. You should check with your nursery or extension center for a harvest chart for your area.

Chojuro Pear: This is a popular Asian pear variety. Expect a heavy crop of large, round, golden brown pears in late summer to early fall. The fruit is firm, juicy, and sweet. Chojuro pears are great for dessert and can be stored for up to five months.

Comice Pear: This pear is a dessert cultivar with a rich, buttery flavor. In the fall, expect a crop of large, greenish-yellow fruit with a little bit of a red blush. Comice pears are considered the tastiest of all European pears.

 Fire blight: This is a serious bacterial disease that causes tree branches to blacken and die. Fire blight is contagious and can affect many members of the rose family, including apple and pear trees.

Harrow Sweet Pear: This European pear cultivar is cold-hardy and very resistant to fire blight.  Harrow Sweet pear trees produce a heavy crop of medium to large yellow fruits with a red blush and a little bit of russeting. They are sweet and juicy and are perfect for eating, canning, and preserves.

Hosui Pear: This dessert pear cultivar has a low chill-hour requirement, making it a good choice for milder climates. Hosui pears are large, round and golden brown. They are great for eating as a dessert or snack and they can be stored for up to three months.

Kieffer Pear: This European pear cultivar does well in both hot and cold climates, is quite resistant to fire blight and has low chill hour requirements. Kieffer pears can be stored for up to three months and are best for canning and baking.

Moonglow Pear: This multi-purpose pear cultivar is vigorous, very resistant to fire blight, and produces a lot of fruit in late summer. Moonglow pears are great for eating, canning, and preserves.

Nijisseiki Pear: This popular Asian pear is a dessert cultivar that produces medium-to-large round pears with smooth yellow skin in late summer to early fall. Nijisseiki pears are cold-hardy, drought-tolerant, and heat-tolerant, making them an excellent choice for milder climates.

Orient Pear: This pear cultivar is a heavy bearer and is highly resistant to fire blight. The fruit is large and bell-shaped with a touch of russeting. Orient pears are great for eating, canning, and baking.

Red Clapp’s Favorite Pear: This pear tree is as productive as it is beautiful. In late summer, Red Clapp’s Favorite pear trees produce a heavy crop of large, golden yellow pears with a bit of a red blush. The fruit can be stored for up to three months, and they’re great for eating, canning, and preserves.

Red Sensation Pear: This European pear cultivar is a brilliant red-skinned variant of the classic Bartlett pear. It’s hardy in zones 5 to 9, but can be susceptible to fire blight. Red Sensation pears are great for eating, canning, and preserves.

Rootstock: This is the root system onto which pear tree cuttings are grafted. Certain rootstocks are used to help determine the size of a tree. For instance, most dwarf-size pear trees come from grafting a pear tree stem onto a quince root.

Scion: This is the stem of a fruit tree which is grafted onto a rootstock. The stem is usually dormant.

Shinseiki Pear: This dessert pear cultivar produces a heavy crop of round, thin-skinned yellow pears that are great for dessert and can be stored for up to five months. Shinseiki pears are heat- and cold-tolerant and are moderately resistant to fire blight.

General gardening terms:

Antioxidant: A substance that inhibits damage to the body caused by the release of free radicals. The anthocyanin in blueberries is considered a powerful antioxidant.

Bacillus thuringiensis: A natural pesticide useful against a number of pests. BT is common soil bacteria that have been used as microbial insecticides for the last century. They can be used on foliage, food storage facilities, soil, or water environments. BT occur naturally, affect very specific insects, and are relatively inexpensive and safe for humans, birds, fish, and most beneficial insects. However, for them to work effectively, you need to know what type of insect you want to target and make sure that you buy a strain that will kill that particular species.

Biennial: Plants that form leaves in the first growing season, and flowers and seeds in the second growing season. After that, the plants die.

Brassicas: A genus of plants in the mustard family that includes cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale, and mustard—foods rich in vitamins and minerals.

Borage: A plant with blue flowers that grows wild in some areas. Its leaves, flowers, and stalks are edible and taste a little like cucumber. Borage leaves are good in salads, yogurt, or cream cheese mixtures, or go well when served with shellfish.

Cultivar: A cultivated variety of a plant produced by selective breeding. A cultivar may not produce true-to-seed. Growers who want to retain the characteristics of a cultivar in future plantings should propagate new plantings from cuttings.

Cultural care: Good cultural practices include providing plants the best possible growing situation: proper spacing, watering, staking or trellising, sanitation, mulching, fertilization and general maintenance practices.

Dormant: This is the period of time when a fruit tree’s buds are relatively inactive. This is also called the overwintering stage.

Extension service: A service that extends information to users including farmers, growers, and homeowners. The Cooperative Extension Service (CES) is a publicly funded research and education network linking the resources of federal (U.S. Department of Agriculture), state (land-grant universities), and local (county) governments. Google “extension service” to find your local service.

Free radical: An especially reactive atom or group of atoms with one or more unpaired electrons. Free radicals produced in the body by biological processes (breathing, digesting, exercising) or from the environment (tobacco smoke, toxins, pollutants) can cause damage to cells, proteins, and DNA by changing their chemical structure.

Fungicide: A specific type of pesticide that controls fungal disease by specifically inhibiting or killing the fungus causing the disease.

Grafting: This is a horticultural technique used to join parts from two or more plants so that they appear to grow as a single plant. In grafting, the upper part (scion) of one plant grows on the root system (rootstock) of another plant.

Hod: A portable trough, often used for carrying gardening supplies and materials around your garden.

Horticultural oil: An oil-based pesticide mixed with water that is made of some type of mineral or vegetable oil and is safe for use on food crops

Nasturtiums: A genus of about 80 species of annual and perennial herbaceous flowering plants that are often used as edible and decorate items in culinary dishes. Nasturtiums are sometimes used as companion plants for biological pest control, repelling some pests, acting as a trap crop for others and attracting predatory insects. Nasturtium plant varieties include Alaska, Black Velvet, Empress of India, Orchid Flame, and Purple Emperor.

Neem oil: A naturally occurring pesticide found in seeds from the neem tree. It is yellow to brown, has a bitter taste, and a garlic/sulfur smell. It has been used for hundreds of years to control pests and diseases.

NPK: The three numbers on fertilizer represent the percentage of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) that compose complete fertilizers.

Perennial: Plants that grow for more than two growing seasons.

Perlite: An amorphous volcanic glass that has a relatively high water content, typically formed by the hydration of obsidian. It occurs naturally and has the unusual property of greatly expanding when heated sufficiently. When in pebble-like form and mixing with gardening soil, perlite makes for a great aerating and moisturizing agent, as well as providing well-drained soil.

Plug: A section of a plant cut out using a circular tool like a golf hole cutter or a bulb planter. This gives you a cutting of the plant that includes part of the root system. Most commonly used with wild lowbush blueberry plants.

Pollination: The process of transferring pollen from the male part of flowers (anthers) to the female part of the flowers (stigma). Pollination is most often accomplished by insects—primarily bees.

Propagation: The process which grows new plants from a variety of sources, such as seeds, cuttings, and other plant parts

Pyrethrin: Pyrethrins are a class of organic compounds normally derived from Chrysanthemum cinerariifolium that have potent insecticidal activity by targeting the nervous systems of insects.

Rhizome: An underground runner or stem of a plant that stores extra nutrients and eventually develops roots and stems identical to its parent plant. This allows the plant to spread out.

Self-fertile, Self-fruitful, self-pollinating: Plants that do not need pollinators in order to reproduce. Self-pollinating plants have flowers with both male and female parts.

Self-sterile: A plant that needs a second plant of a different variety with which to cross-pollinate.

Soil pH: A measure of the acidic or basic (alkaline) level of soil. Blueberry plants require acidic soil in order to thrive; a pH of 4.0 to 4.8 is ideal for blueberry plants. A neutral pH (neither acidic nor alkaline) is 7 on a 14-point scale.

Soilless growing medium: Common soilless growing mediums include peat moss, perlite, vermiculite, and sand.

Spade fork: A gardening tool that looks like a broad-tined, short pitchfork; used to turn soil and mix with compost and other soil mixes.

Spinosad: A natural substance made by a soil bacterium that can be toxic to insects. It is used to control a wide variety of pests including thrips, leafminers, spider mites, mosquitoes, ants, fruit flies, and others.

USDA Plant Hardiness Zones: The standard by which gardeners and growers can determine which plants are most likely to thrive at a location. USDA has a zoned map, based on the average annual minimum winter temperature, divided into 10-degree Fahrenheit zones.

Variety: A group of plants selected for particular characteristics and which usually produces true-to-seed.

Widger: A spatula-like gardening tool for lifting plant seedlings without damaging them.

Are there any pear-growing terms or concepts that you need explained? Please tell us know if you would like more clarification about any pear-related terminology.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Enter Your Log In Credentials

This setting should only be used on your home or work computer.

Need Assistance?

Call Food Gardening Network Customer Service at
(800) 777-2658