Deciduous trees, rarely shrubs, with simple, toothed, but seldom lobed leaves and top-shaped or globose fruits rarely indented at the junction with the stalk, grit-cells abundant; styles two to five, free; stamens twenty to thirty.
The true pears include some of the tallest and bulkiest trees in its group of genera, but the species as a whole have not such striking attributes for the garden as some of the other sections. Their flowers are often beautiful, but they have little attractive colouring in fruit, and the leaves frequently die off black. Some, like P. salicifolia and P. nivalis, are particularly effective in their young expanding foliage, being covered with a snowy-white, thick down. The pears, although represented in N.E. Asia, are more particularly identified with Europe – especially S. and E. Europe – Asia Minor, and N. Africa. No species is a genuine native of the New World. Seeds ripen freely, but owing to the hybrid origin of some it is safer to graft the various sorts on their own or nearly allied seedlings – especially as many cultivated trees are of selected forms that could not be relied on to come true from seed.