Pyrus syriaca (Syrian Pear) is a beautiful, low, winter-deciduous tree. It grows on a single trunk and its crown is spherical and dense and somewhat thorny. The leaf is green, soft, smooth, shiny, narrow and lanceolate, delicately dentated along its entire margin. There are deciduous stipules at its base. The leaves are arranged in spurs that grow out of a short branch. The leaves are pilose when young, and later become glabrous. The tips of the branches are thorny. The tree reproduces vegetatively and intensively, and sometimes creates aggregates that spread over a large area.
Syrian Pear is hidden among the trees of the Maqui, and is prominent only during March-April, when it is entirely covered with a magnificent white inflorescence. Blossoming occurs with an impressive intensity together with the sprouting of the leaves or even before, which enhances the visual effect of the inflorescence that is not diluted with green leaves. The flower is characteristic of its family, the Rosaceae, resembles the flower of the almond, Hawthorn, apple and plum and has a diameter of 2 cm. The flower has 5 pilose, triangular fused sepals which are pointed at their tip, 5 completely white separate round petals (not pink as in the corolla of the almond) with a short claw. The flower is colorful due to the crimson stamens. The ovary is inferior. The flower is carried on a long pedicel. The flowers are arranged in dense groups, in spherical aggregates. The flower has an unpleasant smell. Pollination is solely heterogamous, because the pistil of the flower cannot be fertilized by the pollen of a flower from the same tree (auto-sterility). Pollination is performed by insects that eat pollen or nectar, especially bees.
The fruits of the Syrian Pear ripen at the end of the summer (August-September). The fruit is green, and small (4 cm). Its pear shape cannot be missed. When the fruit ripens its color changes to yellow or brown, it becomes somewhat soft, and is then tasty and edible. It is very tasty, with a taste similar to the domesticated pear, but does not reach the taste of high quality domesticated varieties. Its pulp contains hard “spots”, which are sclereids. Botanically, the real fruit is only the inner, leathery part that contains the seeds, whereas the pulp, the fleshy and edible part of the fruit, develops from the flower’s base, as in the apple, and not from the ovary, therefore it is not a real fruit, in the strict sense.
Pear wood is considered especially good for carving and for making delicate and accurate drawing tools.
Syrian Pear is common in Israel in the mountainous Mediterranean regions from Judea to the Galilee and Mount Hermon, mainly at an elevation above 600 m. It is often found in association with Boissier Oak. Its global distribution is limited to the mountains of the northern Middle East. In Israel there is only one wild species. Domesticated varieties were developed from the wild species already during antiquity, and Syrian Pear is also considered to be one of the progenitors of the domesticated pear. It is suitable for preparing a root-stock for grafting domesticated varieties.
Domesticated pear is cultivated in many countries and is considered a delicate and sought-after fruit. Its global yield is 19,000,000 tons, in Israel it is 27,000 tons.
The genus contains 25 or more species. There is only one wild species in Israel.
Written by Mike Livne