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Pyrus ussuriensis - Ussurian pear


Ussurian pear grows naturally as a forest tree in northern China, Korea, and in the Ussuri area of Russia, reaching heights of over 10 m, though in Finland it seems to stay much smaller. It flowers in early spring to coincide with leaf flush, at Mustila around mid-May, depending on the weather. In autumn it can turn brilliant shades of orange or red, but with variation between individuals.

Ussurian pear is the hardiest of the wild pears and has survived without problems as far north as Oulu. On the other hand, at Mustila and elsewhere in the south of Finland, even large trees have died suddenly in the middle of summer. Being used to a steady continental climate, the species sometimes starts to grow in the mild spells which are a feature of Finnish winters, but then the cambium layer under the bark freezes in the next cold spell – the damage is only revealed when the tree starts to grow in the spring. Excessively continental seed provenances should therefore be avoided in southern and south-west Finland.

The small round fruit are extremely bitter and hardly edible, but their juice is deliciously tangy. In Russia the species has long been crossed with domestic pears, producing tasty and winter-hardy varieties like ‘Lada’, Tšisovskaja' and 'Kafedralnaja', which have been successfully tried in Finland in recent years. Chinese varieties of the Ussurian pear haven’t been much tried in the west.