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Plymouth pear Pyrus cordata

A wild relative of the domestic pear tree, Pyrus cordata rarely bears small brownish-red fruits which produce very little viable seed, making this tree one of Britain’s rarest. Currently this species survives in just two wild hedgerows.

Plymouth pear (Pyrus cordata) is a wild hedgerow relative of the domestic pear, and puts on an exuberant display of white flowers in late April and early May.

It rarely bears its small brownish-red fruits, which produce very little viable seed due to an in-built control mechanism to stop inbreeding (called self-incompatibility), and as a result has become one of Britain’s rarest trees.

Plymouth pear is smaller than its more common relative, the wild pear, and can be distinguished by its purplish twigs (instead of grey-brown).

The plant is restricted to western Europe with populations in the UK, France, particularly in Brittany, and the north-western regions of Spain and Portugal.

The wild UK population survives in just two hedgerows, but is thought to have originally been a widespread component of mixed deciduous woodlands.

In the shaded conditions in which it grows this plant reproduces by suckering. When the tree receives enough light it does flower and bear fruit.

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