Pear Tree Diseases in the UK

Updated July 19, 2017

Pear trees have been cultivated in England for hundreds of years because most pear tree varieties are hardy and do not require much attention once planted, aside from regular pruning and watering. However, a number of diseases will target the pear tree, given the right conditions. Several diseases are shared with apple trees.


Fireblight is a bacterial disease that was introduced to the United Kingdom in 1957. It is present only on the mainland of the United Kingdom. Fireblight attacks the shoots and blossoms of pear trees, apple trees and other ornamental species. Signs of infection include wilted and browned shoots and flowers, which give the tree the appearance of being scorched by fire. A slimy white liquid may also be present. The wood immediately under the bark may also be stained brown. Infected areas must be removed from the tree and burnt.

European Pear Rust

European pear rust is a fungal disease that has spread widely across the United Kingdom only recently. It feeds off living plant cells, and thus will not kill an infected tree. European pear rust needs junipers nearby to survive during leafless periods. It will infect junipers via windblown spores, and return to the pear tree when leaves return. Signs of pear rust include orange spotting on the tops of leaves and brown growths on the undersides. When seen on junipers, signs include swellings on branches and orange growths in the spring. Fungicides and pruning may control this disease.

Pear Scab

Pear scab is another fungal disease that also affects apple trees. Pear scab attacks the leaves, shoots and fruit of the pear. Signs of infection can include olive-green spotting on the tops of leaves, which may appear fuzzy; and blistering or cracking on young shoots. The fruit may be affected by black scabby markings that tighten the skin, causing cracking as the fruit matures. Pear scab spores survive the winter by living on fallen dead leaves. Infections can be reduced by burning dead leaves and fruit, or through use of fungicides.

Fungal Canker

This fungal disease primarily affects apple trees, but may infect the pear tree. It usually infects a tree through wounds in the bark, such as errors committed while pruning branches. The infection can be identified by a sunken area of dead bark around the wound, with raised edges formed by surrounding tree bark trying to grow over the dead area. Canker will kill an infected branch. It may also target fruit, which will die and fall from the tree. To control this infection, all infected areas must be removed from the tree, and fungicide may be applied.

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