Pears from Kazakhstan

Phil Forsline, apple curator at the Geneva Repository, just returned from an expedition to Kazakhstan with Jim Luby. This area is thought to be the center of origin for cultivated apples and also contains a wealth of other wild fruit plants. In addition to apples and grapes, Phil and Jim brought us seed of a very unusual pear species known as Pyrus regelii. This species is sometimes listed as P. heterophylla which refers to the different leaf forms. The seed are 3-4 times larger than normal European pear seed, and the leaves are finely divided like some of the ornamental Japanese maples! Other pear species, such as Pyrus dimorphophylla also have dissected leaves in the juvenile foliage, but adult leaves are not lobed. P. regelii retains the dissected leaf form in the adult foliage.