A tree up to 40 ft or so high; branchlets glabrous or almost so when mature, reddish or purplish brown; buds glabrous. Leaves oblong-ovate or ovate, 23⁄4 to 4 in. long, about half as wide, acuminately tapered at the apex, usually rounded at the base, more rarely cordate or broad-cuneate, hairy beneath when young, becoming glabrous, margins conspicuously bristle-toothed as in P. ussuriensis; stalk 11⁄4 to 13⁄4 in. long. Inflorescence glabrous or slightly hairy, composed of a loose corymb of six to nine flowers on stalks 11⁄4 to 2 in. long. Calyx-lobes ovate, acute, hairy on the inside, margins finely toothed. Petals obovate, about 3⁄4 in. long. Styles usually five, glabrous. Fruits globular, brown spotted with white, about 11⁄4 in. long and wide, of hard and gritty texture.
Native of W. and Central China. In its primitive, wild state it is little known in cultivation, but was introduced by Wilson in 1909 when collecting for the Arnold Arboretum.
var. culta (Mak.) Nakai P. sinensis var. culta Mak. – Numerous orchard varieties of P. pyrifolia are cultivated in China and Japan, with larger, softer fruits and usually with larger, relatively broader leaves. For these var. culta is the collective name. Some of these varieties were introduced to the United States in the first half of the last century, and, crossed with European sorts, gave rise to a race of hybrids for which the botanical name is P. × lecontei Rehd., of which the type is the variety ‘Leconte’. These hybrids are better adapted to the climate of the southern states than the European orchard varieties.
cv. ‘Stapfiana’. – Fruits obovoid, larger than in the type. Figured in Bot. Mag., t. 8226, as “P. sinensis” and named P. pyrifolia f. stapfiana by Rehder. It was propagated at Kew from graft-wood received from Prof. Decaisne of Paris in 1875.