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Pears Pear, common name for about 20 species of trees of a genus in the rose family, and for their fruit. The common pear is native to Europe; the Chinese sand pear is native to the Orient. Both species are extensively cultivated for their fruit in cool, humid, temperate regions throughout the world.

Under cultivation, standard pear trees attain heights of up to 9 m (30 ft), with trunks 30 cm (12 in) or more in diameter. The leaves are oval and simple and, unlike those of the apple, smooth and glossy. The white flowers, which are borne in umbels, have five sepals, five petals, many stamens, and a single pistil.

The fruit is a pome, juicier than the apple, and varying from apple-shaped to teardrop-shaped. Among different varieties, the thin skin varies in color from light yellow and green through red and brown. The thick flesh varies in flavor among different varieties. In young, unripe common pears, and in young and mature Chinese sand pears, the flesh contains numerous gritty cells called stone cells.

Pears are gathered from the trees before they are completely ripe and are allowed to ripen in storage. Cold retards ripening, and heat speeds it. Pears are eaten fresh and canned.

Commercial pear production in the United States averages about 700,000 metric tons annually. The best North American pear-growing districts are in California, Washington, and Oregon and, to a lesser degree, in the northern United States from New England to the Great Lakes and in lower Canada. Pears are grown extensively in home orchards in the United States.

Most pear varieties may be grown in either standard or dwarf sizes. Dwarf pears are propagated by grafting a pear scion on a quince stock. Angoule, Elizabeth, Louis Bonne, and Deal pears are desirable dessert varieties usually cultivated as dwarfs. Anjou, Boussoc, and Tyson pears are about equally good in either standard or dwarf sizes. Bosc, Washington, and Dix pears are usually grown as dwarfs by a type of grafting called double working, in which stocks are grafted onto stocks that have previously been dwarfed by grafting on quince. Bartlett, Seckel, and Doyenn?pears are usually grown in standard sizes.

Basic Nutritional Facts: Pears contain about 16 percent carbohydrate and negligible amounts of fat and protein. They are good sources of the B-complex vitamins and also contain vitamin C; in addition, they contain small amounts of phosphorus and iodine.

Detailed nutritional informatin can be found by searching the USDA Nutritional Database . Enter "Pear" (no quotes) as the keyword and select the link and report of interest.

Scientific classification: Pears belong to the family Rosaceae. The common pear is classified as Pyrus communis and the Chinese sand pear as Pyrus pyrifolia.