The pear is a popular fruit rich in nutrients as well as full of helpful medicinal benefits. Explore the pear's history, uses, and more.

Quick Facts
General Information
  • Common name(s)Pear, common pear, European pear
  • Scientific namePyrus communis
  • Plant typeTree
  • Native regionSouthern Europe, Central Asia
  • Main producer(s)China
  • Main Economic UseFood industry

Pears have been revered since ancient times and were referred to as "a gift of the gods" by the ancient Greek poet Homer. The early Romans also enjoyed the fruit and developed dozens of varieties that they spread across Europe. Today, there are over 3,000 pear varieties in existence and the fruit is enjoyed worldwide.

Pear Medicinal Properties

Quick Facts (Medicinal Properties)
  • Medicinal actionDigestive, Laxative
  • Key constituentsVitamin C, fiber
  • Ways to useFood, Juiced
  • Medicinal rating(2) Minorly useful plant
  • Safety rankingSafe

Health Benefits of Pear

Pears are more often eaten for their taste and nutritional value than for their medicinal benefits, but research has shown them to be useful for:

  • Relieving mild constipation. Pears are mild laxatives and can be helpful for cases of constipation.

  • Improving stomach and intestinal health. Research has shown that pears can protect against ulcers, and they may be integral in developing healthy gut bacteria.

Additionally, pears can lower the level of lipids in the blood, reducing cholesterol levels.

How it Works

Pears are high in both fructose and dietary fiber, which both play a role in its laxative properties. Fiber is known to help reduce constipation, and fructose plays a role in this process as well. The exact method of action that helps to lower cholesterol and improve intestinal health is not yet known, but is thought to be related to the phenols present in pear. Its digestive benefits may also be due to high levels of potassium in the fruit.

Psyllium, senna, and tamarind also provide laxative effects, while yacon has shown prebiotic actions that promote a healthy gut flora.

Pear Side Effects

Pears are generally safe when taken in normal amounts; however, they may cause diarrhea if taken in large amounts because of their high fiber content, and some people may experience allergic reactions, including itching, swelling, rashes, digestive upset, or even anaphylaxis.

Pear Cautions

Pear causes no known medical interactions. Eaten in normal food amounts, pear should be safe for consumption. Those who are pregnant or breastfeeding are recommended to avoid medicinal uses of pear because of the lack of research on its effects on infant development.

How to Consume Pear

Quick Facts (How to Consume)
  • Edible partsFruit
  • Edible usesBeverage
  • TasteSweet

Pear is most often eaten, either alone or as a culinary ingredient, and it can be used in salads, canned, baked, poached, pureed, or added to jellies and jams. It is also commonly used in beverages, including alcoholic drinks like ciders.

Natural Forms

  • Raw. Pears are most commonly eaten raw, which provides all three of its health benefits - relieving constipation, lowering cholesterol, and improving digestion. Raw pears should be eaten with the peel still on for full health benefits and nutritional value.

  • Juice. Juice made from pears can also provide constipation relief and help to improve digestive health.

  • Dried. In this form, pears can be eaten as a tasty, low-calorie snack, or being infused as a tea. In both ways, dried pear aid digestion.

  • Powder. Mostly for culinary use, pear powder retains all flavor and benefits of fresh pears, except for the water content.


Quick Facts (Buying)
  • Where to buySupermarkets, Farmers' markets

Natural Forms

Raw pears, as well as pure pear juice, are easy to find in most grocery stores or local markets around the world. They are normally bought in their original state, but can also be found per-peeled. However, peeling pears is not recommended, as most of the nutritional value is contained in and just under the skin.

On the other hand, other forms of pear, such as pear powder and dried pear can be purchased through online retailers.


Quick Facts (Growing)
  • Life cyclePerennial
  • Harvested partsFruit
  • Light requirementsFull sun
  • SoilMedium (loam)
  • Soil pH6.6 – 7.3 (Neutral)
  • Growing habitatCool temperate regions, Temperate climates
  • Planting timeEarly spring, Spring

Pear is a perennial plant that can grow across different temperate climates, although it does require some specific conditions in order to reach its best potential. It is best to choose a self-pollinating variety to increase the chances of fruit production.

 Growing Guidelines

  • Pear is generally propagated by seeds, but its seeds require long exposure to cold in order to break dormancy, for at least 1,000 hours at a minimum of 45°F (7°C).

  • Plant pear in neutral pH, loamy and moist soils. To promote better drainage, the seeds may be planted on a slope.

  • Pear requires full sun and plenty of space to grow to maturity.

  • Pear trees are significantly more tolerant to cold weather than to heat,  resisting temperatures below 0°F (-18°C).

  • The trees should be regularly pruned, but the best pruning method is dependent on the type of pear being grown.

  • Fertilizer is usually not necessary, but mulch may be beneficial. Weeds and other grass should not grow up to the base, so anything growing too close to the tree's trunk should be removed.

  • Pear trees generally bloom during March or April.

  • Pear is susceptible to be damaged by fire blight, leaf spot, pear scab, and sooty blotch.

  • Pests that attack the pear tree include moths, pear psyllas, aphids, and spider mites.

Additional Information

Plant Biology

This broad-headed perennial tree, which can reach heights of up to 43 feet (13 m), is cultivated in all temperate-zone countries of both hemispheres. Depending on the variety, the pear plant can also be a shrub, but this is less common. The leaves are round in shape and have wedge-shaped bases. They can grow up to 5 inches (12 cm) long and appear around the same time as the scented, white flowers. However, there are some non-flowering varieties of pear that still produce fruit.

  • Classification

    The common pear, or Pyrus communis, is a member of the Rosaceae family, otherwise known as the rose family, which contains over 4,200 known flowering species, notably including almond (Prunus dulcis), apple (Malus domestica), blackberry (Rubus fruticosus), and cherry (Prunus spp.). 
  • Cultivars and Related Species of Pear

    Over the course of history, different cultivars of the pear fruit have been cultivated through selective breeding. Among them, the most widely available varieties in the U.S. and Western Europe are green and red 'Anjou' and 'Bartlett' pears, as well as 'Starcrimson', 'Concorde', and 'Forelle' pears.

    In addition, many more hybrids can be found through crossing Pyrus communis with its close relatives, mainly oriental pear (P. serotina) and Asian pear (P. pyrifolia).

Historical Information

Common pears are thought to have developed from plants growing natively in Europe and Northern Asia. They were popular among the ancient Greeks and Romans, although they were used in drinks and cooked dishes rather than eaten raw, since the ancient varieties of pear were less palatable raw. However, through breeding, pears were made safe to eat raw and became a popular dessert fruit. They were brought to America in 1797, and continue to be popular worldwide today.

Economic Data

Pear is an important ingredient in many cuisines and is thus an important economic crop. Three-quarters of all cultivated pears are grown in Asia, and the world's largest producer is China; it produced a massive 18 million tons in 2014. The United States and Italy are also large producers of the fruit.

Popular Beliefs

Pears are thought to have been an important religious symbol in ancient Russian religions, in which tree worship was common. Pear trees were thought to house spirits.

Giving pears as gifts is often considered bad luck in China. This is because the word for pear in Chinese sounds very similar to the word for breaking up, and giving somebody a pear - especially in a romantic relationship - could be taken as a message that the giver wants to end the relationship.

Several towns in California, notably Kelseyville and Courtland, regularly hold pear festivals to celebrate the growing of the fruit. These fairs are great places to find pear-flavored food and drink that will not be available elsewhere.

Other Uses

  • Timber. Pear's wood is a preferred type of wood in high-quality woodwork for products like musical instruments, kitchen utensils, and furniture.

  • Fuel. The aroma of pear's wood is also valued, and used as firewood when smoking meat or tobacco.

Pear is already popular for its sweet, tart taste, but its many health benefits - especially its digestive benefits and ability to lower cholesterol - make it a valuable medicinal herb.


  • Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, Health benefits of pear
  • University of Minnesota, Growing pears in the home garden
  • Washington State University, History of Pears
  • FAOSTAT, Pears
  • Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, Composition of phenolic compounds in a Portuguese pear (Pyrus communis L. var. S. Bartolomeu) and changes after sun-drying, 2002