Pear Trees and Edibility: What You Need to Know

Pear trees are a popular fruit tree known for their luscious and juicy fruit. While many pear trees produce edible fruit that is enjoyed around the world, not all pear tree varieties are suitable for consumption. In this article, we will delve into the fascinating world of pear trees and explore the variety of edible and non-edible varieties.

Edible Pear Trees

The majority of pear tree varieties grown for their fruit are, in fact, edible. These trees produce a wide range of pear varieties that vary in size, shape, color, and flavor. Some of the most popular edible pear varieties include Bartlett, Bosc, Anjou, Comice, and Conference, to name a few. These trees produce delicious fruit that can be enjoyed fresh, used in cooking, or turned into delicious preserves.

Edible pear trees are prized for their sweet, juicy and aromatic fruit. Flavors can range from mildly sweet to rich and buttery, and they offer delightful textures that can be crisp or tender, depending on the variety. These trees are typically selected for fruit quality, disease resistance, and adaptability to different growing conditions.

Non-Edible Pear Trees

While the majority of pear trees produce edible fruit, it is important to note that there are some pear tree varieties that are primarily used as ornamental or landscape trees and are not suitable for consumption. These non-edible pear trees are often referred to as “ornamental pears” or “flowering pears. Common examples include the Callery pear (Pyrus calleryana) and its cultivars, such as the Bradford pear.

Ornamental pear trees are admired for their striking spring blossoms, attractive foliage, and vibrant fall colors. Their ornamental value adds to the beauty of gardens and landscapes. However, the fruits produced by these trees are small, hard, and generally unpalatable. They are not typically grown or consumed for their flavor or for culinary purposes.


It is important to use caution when searching for or harvesting wild pears from unfamiliar trees. While some wild or feral pear trees may bear edible fruit, others may produce fruit that is astringent, bitter, or even poisonous. Consuming fruit from unidentified pear trees can be risky because it may contain compounds that are harmful if ingested.

To ensure that you are enjoying safe and delicious pears, it is recommended that you purchase fruit from reputable sources, such as local farmers’ markets or grocery stores, or grow known edible pear tree varieties in your own backyard.

Common myths about the edibility of pear trees

When it comes to the edibility of pear trees, there are some common myths that have circulated. Let’s debunk some of these misconceptions:

  • Myth: All pear trees produce edible fruit.
    Reality: Not all varieties of pear trees produce edible fruit. There are ornamental or flowering pear trees that are grown primarily for their visual appeal rather than their fruit quality. These non-edible varieties produce small, hard, and generally inedible fruit.
  • Myth: All wild or feral pear trees produce edible fruit.
    Reality: While some wild or feral pear trees do produce edible fruit, it is important to exercise caution. There are wild pear trees that produce fruit that is astringent, bitter, or even poisonous. Eating fruit from unidentified pear trees can be risky because it may contain compounds that are harmful if ingested.
  • Myth: Only cultivated pear trees are edible.
    Reality: While cultivated pear trees are bred specifically for their fruit quality, there are also wild or native pear tree varieties that bear edible fruit. These wild varieties are found in specific regions and may offer unique flavors and characteristics.
  • Myth: All parts of the pear tree are edible.
    Reality: While the fruits of edible pear trees are safe for consumption, other parts of the tree, such as the leaves, seeds, and bark, are generally not eaten. In fact, some parts of the pear tree, such as the seeds, may contain small amounts of cyanide and should be avoided.
  • Myth: All edible pear tree fruits taste the same.
    Reality: Pear tree edible fruits come in a variety of flavors and textures. Different cultivars offer different flavor profiles, ranging from sweet and juicy to rich and buttery. Each variety has its own unique characteristics, making the eating experience varied and exciting.

It is important to rely on accurate information and trusted sources when determining the edibility of pear trees. Consulting reputable gardening references, local experts, or horticultural organizations can provide reliable guidance and help dispel any misconceptions about pear tree edibility.

Use of non-edible pear trees in landscaping and ornamental gardening

  1. Non-edible pear trees, commonly referred to as ornamental pears or flowering pears, are valued primarily for their visual appeal and are widely used in landscaping and ornamental gardening. Here are some common uses for non-dessert pear trees:
  2. Ornamental purposes: Non-edible pear trees are chosen for their aesthetic qualities, such as their showy spring flowers, attractive foliage, and vibrant fall colors. They add beauty and visual interest to gardens, parks, streetscapes, and other outdoor spaces. These trees often serve as focal points or specimen trees that enhance the overall landscape design.
  3. Shade trees: Ornamental pear trees can provide shade in outdoor settings, making them suitable for creating shaded seating areas, picnic spots, or outdoor gathering places. Their broad canopy and dense foliage provide relief from the sun and create a pleasant environment for enjoying outdoor activities.
  4. Street trees: Some non-edible pear varieties, such as the Bradford pear (Pyrus calleryana ‘Bradford’) and its cultivars, are commonly used as street trees. Their upright growth habit, attractive flowers, and compact size make them suitable for lining streets, boulevards, and urban landscapes.
  5. Screen or privacy trees: Non-edible pear trees can be used as a natural screen or privacy barrier in residential or commercial settings. Their dense foliage and upright growth make them effective at blocking unwanted views, reducing noise, and providing privacy from neighboring properties.
  6. Wildlife Habitat: Ornamental pear trees can attract wildlife such as birds and butterflies with their flowers, fruit, and the shelter provided by their branching structure. They contribute to a diverse and ecologically rich environment by providing food sources and habitat for various species.
  7. Erosion control: With their extensive root systems, non-edible pear trees can help stabilize soil and prevent erosion on slopes, embankments, or areas prone to soil erosion. Strategically planted, these trees can help maintain the integrity of the landscape and mitigate erosion-related problems.
  8. Windbreaks: Non-edible pear trees can be used as windbreaks or windbreaks in open and exposed areas. Their dense foliage helps reduce wind speed, creating a more sheltered microclimate and protecting other plants, structures, or outdoor spaces from excessive wind.

It is worth noting that while non-edible pear trees do not produce desirable fruit for human consumption, they still offer numerous aesthetic, functional, and environmental benefits. Their selection and placement in various landscape settings can greatly enhance the overall visual appeal and functionality of outdoor spaces.


While the majority of pear trees are indeed edible and produce delicious fruit, not all pear tree varieties are suitable for consumption. Edible pear trees offer a variety of flavors and textures and provide an abundance of delicious fruit. However, certain varieties of pear trees, often referred to as ornamental pears, are grown primarily for their visual appeal and are not intended for consumption. By understanding the difference between edible and non-edible pear trees, you can make an informed choice when selecting pear trees for your orchard, garden or landscape, ensuring a fruitful and enjoyable experience.


Are all pear trees edible?

There are over 800 species of pear trees, and many of them are quite similar. All pear trees have medium sized, oval-shaped green leaves that turn colors and drop in the fall. All pear trees have white blooms in clusters of five. Some are ornamental, while others do produce edible pears.

Are there any pears that are not edible?

The small brown fruits found on ornamental pears (like Bradford pears), on the other hand, are inedible.

Can you eat pears from tree?

Pears don’t ripen best on the tree. They ripen from the inside out and develop soft interiors with a mushy, grainy texture. Pears should be firm and juicy for the best results eaten out of hand or canned.

How can you tell if you have a Bradford pear tree?

Key identifiers:

  1. Deciduous tree (drops its leaves in the fall), reaching up to 30 to 50 feet tall.
  2. Overall tree shape pyramidal, columnar, or egg-shaped.
  3. Wide-spreading branches fairly vertical, branching symmetrically.
  4. Branches sometimes thorny.
  5. Leaves shiny, dark green, leathery, with small-toothed margins.

Can you eat the fruit of an ornamental pear tree?

They do set fruit, which can range in size from a BB up to a large crabapple. They are not edible by humans, but the birds love them and eat them and then scatter the seeds — causing even more callery pears.

How do I know if my pears are edible?

Pears ripen from the inside out, so you can’t judge their ripeness by looking at the skin. To test if a pear is ripe, apply gentle pressure near the stem end. If it gives slightly, it’s most likely ready to be eaten.

How do I know what kind of pear tree I have?

Quote from video: Here are two branches two distinct patterns of the bark the old bark is quite beautiful it is developing some deep grooves the new bark is quite fresh. You can see that it has kind of a waxy layer on