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How to Identify Apple Tree Compared to Pear Tree

Updated November 21, 2016

Apple trees and pear trees are quite similar, but with a little detective work you can determine which one you have in front of you. You can purchase or borrow a field guide to trees to help you and then use the guide with your observations of the fruit, flowers, leaf form and design, bark and branches of your tree to help you decide.

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  1. Buy a field guide to trees, or borrow one from your local library. The guide should include both pictures of trees and descriptions of their characteristics.

  2. Check the fruit on the tree. Apples and pears can actually look very similar when still on the tree, so you need to feel the skin of the fruit. Pears will have a gritty texture.

  3. Look at the flower pictures in your tree guide, and note the colour, shape, size, and number of petals on the flowers. Pear trees usually have white flowers with five petals per blossom. Apple tree blossoms usually have a slightly pink hue.

  4. Use the guide to find the differences between apple tree leaves and pear tree leaves. Look at the colour, shape, leaf vein thickness and patterns and the underside and size of the leaf. Pear tree leaves have a broad, near-oval shape and finely serrated, ridged edges. The veins extend from the centre of the leaves to the outer edges and are longest at the bottom end. The leaves of apple trees are similar, but they have a thinner oval shape.

  5. Put your hand on the tree and feel the bark. Is it smooth or rough? Is it a dark colour or a lighter grey? Check the description of the bark in the field guide against what you feel and see. Usually, pear tree bark has deeper ridges than apple tree bark.

  6. Look at the branches. Are there small twigs protruding from the ends of the branches? Notice what shape the branches are and how they extend from the tree. Apple tree branches are nearer to horizontal, while pear tree branches extend vertically. Apple tree branches are less uniform than pear tree branches.

  7. Make your decision, based on observation and comparison to the field guide descriptions.

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Things You'll Need

  • Field guide to trees

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