Pear trees are deciduous trees that grow in temperate zones. There are more than 850 species of pear trees, divided roughly into European pears and Asian pears. European pears are the softer varieties of fruits, while Asian pears, also referred to as pear apples, are more crisp and tart. Most pear trees are grown for fruit, although some are used as flowering ornamental trees favored for their fall foliage. The fruit on ornamental trees is edible but not very tasty. Pear trees grow quickly and can get up to 50 feet tall.
Look at the bark of the tree. On younger pear trees, the bark is smooth and grayish brown. As the tree ages, the bark becomes scaly and more gray in color.
Examine the tree’s leaves. Pear tree leaves are teardrop-shaped and deep green. They can be 1 to 4 inches long depending on the variety of the tree. The edges of the leaves are finely and evenly serrated with tiny teeth, and they are attached to the branches with short stems.
Slice open the fruit lengthwise. Most pears are easily recognizable by their shape, though the color can vary from green to yellow to pink or red. Some Asian pear varieties are round, however, so looking at the seeds and flesh can help identify the fruit. Pear seeds are small, brown and similar in size and shape to apple seeds. They are arranged in the center of the fruit inside a hard core. The flesh of a pear is juicy and slightly granular or gritty.
Watch the tree throughout the year. Pear trees are deciduous, which means the leaves drop off in the fall. Some varieties have brilliant red or golden fall colors.
Check the flowers in the spring. Pear blossoms are usually white or pinkish. They bloom in early or midspring, and the flowers are less than an inch in diameter. They usually have five flat, round petals with an arrangement of many colored stamens centered around the pistil. The blossoms for edible pears can be slightly fragrant or unscented, while some ornamental pear blossoms have an unpleasant smell.