Pear: A Pomaceous Fruit
Pear is also known as Pomaceous fruit is placed in the genus Prunus . The word pear has been derived from a Greek word. Pear is known in cultivation in the cooler temperate climates since times immemorial. They were cultured for the first time by the Romans. They are supposed to be natives to the coastal and mild temperate regions of Old World, from Western Europe and North Africa east right across Asia. They are medium-sized trees attaining height of 10-17 m with a narrow crown and some varieties are shrubby also. The leaves are arranged in alternate fashion on the branches and are 2-12 cm long. The leaves are generally glossy green or silvery hairy, oval to lanceolate. Majority of the species are deciduous but two growing in Southeast Asia are evergreen. Majority of nthe species are known to tolerate temperatures in the range of -25 ° C to -40 ° C but the evergreen varieties are unable to survive if the temperature falls below -15 ° C. The flowers are basically white but sometimes they may be pink, 2-4 cm in diameter and are provided with five petals.
Te fruit is made up of a highly dilated receptacle. The true fruit is enclosed inside the flesh and is characterized by the presence of five cartilaginous carpels forming the core of the fruit. From the upper rim of the receptacle arise five sepals, five petals and very few stamens. They resemble apple in their cultivation, propagation and pollination. Pear and apple are also related to the quince. They can be distinguished from apples as the flesh of pears contains stone cells. They are raised by seeds which may be of wild or cultured types. Varieties can even be grafted. Cross-breeding is also possible in pears as it can result in the production of the variety with desirable characters. Plant starts producing fruits after one year on the spurs. Summer and autumn months are perfect for the harvesting of these crops.
Pears can be stored at room temperature when ripe. They can be refrigerated where they have a shelf life of 2-3 days. They can be consumed fresh, canned as juice or even dried. The juice can be used in jams and jellies. Fermented pear juice is known as pear cider. They ripen at room temperature. They ripen faster if kept next to bananas. Pear wood is used for making furniture and other woodwind instruments. Pear leaves were smoked in Europe much before the introduction of tobacco. Each 100 gram of pear provided 58 kilocalories of energy. Pear juice is less allergic than any other fruit juice so pear juice is the first juice being given to the infants. They contain low levels of salicylates and benzoates. They are useful in treating inflammation of mucous membranes, colitis, chronic gallbladder disorders, arthritis, and gout. Pears can also be beneficial in lowering high blood pressure, controlling blood cholesterol levels, and increasing urinary acidity. In Greece in the olden times they were used to treat nausea. Most of the fiber is soluble so used as a mild laxative.