Pear and apple trees are distinct plants with unique fruits and flowers. But have you ever thought about how great it would be to mix the two together?
Can an apple tree pollinate a pear tree?
An apple tree cannot pollinate a pear tree, or any other non-apple tree for that matter. Pollination in plants is just like sexual reproduction in animals: the species need to be the same for pollination or offspring to occur.
So what is pollination and how does it work within trees of the same type? We’ll take a closer look at challenges in tree pollination and what you can be sure is possible.
Table of Contents
What is Pollination?
Pollination is the transfer of pollen from a flower’s anther (male part) to a flower’s stigma (female part).
Pollination is somewhat comparable to reproduction in animals. A flower’s anther produces pollen (or plant sperm) and the pollen is taken to the ovaries of the flower (through the stigma).
How are pollen grains transferred from the anther to the stigma?
There are some agents of pollination that makes this possible:
- Small Mammals
Anything that can move freely from one flower to another is an agent of pollination.
Pollination is important because, without it, a plant cannot produce seeds nor fruits. Without pollination, most plants will cease to exist.
Pollinating Fruit Trees
When it comes to pear and apple trees, pollination can be a bit complex. In many plants such as peach trees or tomato plants, the flowers of a single plant can pollinate other flowers in the same plant.
But in most apple and pear varieties, the tree must be pollinated by another tree. This type of pollination in apple and pear trees is called cross pollination.
Apple and pear trees cannot cross pollinate one another because they are not part of the same species nor genus. Apples are in the genus Malus while pears are in the genus Pyrus.
Except for some strange natural phenomenon or science experiment, it is quite impossible for apple trees to pollinate pear trees, or vice versa.
Pollination in Pear and Apple Trees
Apple Tree Pollination
Apple trees need pollination to produce seeds and fruits, but most apple varieties cannot pollinate themselves. They need pollen grains from other apple trees to pollinate them.
What is more? Some apple tree varieties will not be pollinated by pollen from some apple tree varieties, so you have to plan carefully when planting apple trees.
The following table shows the varieties that are appropriate or inappropriate to pollinate some selected apple varieties. Appropriate Pollinators are varieties that give the best result when they pollinate an apple tree variety.
The Pair with Other Varieties column shows varieties that can pollinate an apple tree but with less impressive results and fewer fruits. You should avoid pollinating apple trees with Inappropriate Pollinators.
|Apple Tree Variety||Appropriate Pollinators||Pair with Other Varieties||Inappropriate Pollinators|
|Anna||Dorsett Golden, Ein Shemer, Fuji, etc.||Anna||Liberty, Lodi, Winesap, etc.|
|Beverly Hills||Anna, Dorsett Golden, Gala, etc.||Beverly Hills||Arkansas Black, Stayman, Winesap, etc.|
|Cortland||Braeburn, Fuji, Gala, etc.||Cortland||Arkansas Black, Liberty, Lodi, etc.|
|Dorsett Golden||Anna, Fuji, Gala, etc.||Dorsett Golden||Liberty, Stayman, Winesap, etc.|
|Ein Shemer||Anna, Dorsett Golden, Ein Shemer||Liberty, Arkansas Black, Lodi|
|Fuji||Fuji||Winesap, Stayman, Liberty, etc.|
|Gala||Gala||Stayman, Winesap, Lodi, etc.|
|Haralred||Haralred||Arkansas Black, Lodi, Jonagold, etc.|
|Jonagold||Lodi, Arkansas Black, Jonagold, etc.|
|Liberty||Winesap, Stayman, Liberty, etc.|
|McIntosh||McIntosh||Stayman, Winesap, Lodi, etc.|
|Ozark Gold||Ozark Gold||Lodi, Arkansas Black, Liberty, etc.|
|Pink Lady||Pink Lady||Jonagold, Arkansas Black, Lodi, etc.|
|Red Delicious||Red Delicious||Winesap, Stayman, Liberty, etc.|
|Spartan||Spartan||Stayman, Winesap, Lodi, etc.|
|Winesap||Arkansas Black, Jonagold, Liberty, etc.|
|Yellow Delicious||Jonagold, Lodi, Arkansas Black, etc.|
Pear Tree Pollination
Pollination in pear trees is almost the same as that of apple trees. Just like apples, pears have a lot of varieties that are self-sterile, so they need pollen grains from other trees to produce fruits and seeds.
Pear trees can be grouped according to their time of flowering. Note that pear varieties in a group can only be pollinated by trees in their group or the next group.
When planting pear trees, you should plant trees that are compatible in terms of pollination.
The table below shows the various pear tree varieties in groups. You will see that trees in Group A can only be pollinated by trees in Group A or Group B, and so on.
|Pear Variety||Group||Compatible Group(s)|
|Conference||A||A and B|
|Louise Bonne of Jersey||A||A and B (Except Williams Bon Chretien)|
|Beth||B||A, B, and C (Pollinates other pears poorly)|
|Beurre Hardy||B||A, B, and C|
|Brandy||B||A, B, and C|
|Glou Morceau||B||A, B, and C|
|Merton Pride||B||A, B, and C (Cannot pollinate other trees)|
|Williams bon Chretien||B||A, B, and C (Except Louise Bonne of Jersey)|
|Winter Nelis||B||A, B, and C|
|Cannock||C||B, C, and D|
|Concorde||C||B, C, and D|
|Doyenne du Comice||C||B, C, and D (Except Onward)|
|Humbug||C||B, C, and D|
|Invincible||C||B, C, and D|
|Onward||C||B, C, and D (Except Doyenne du Comice)|
|Sensation||C||B, C, and D|
|Hellens Early||D||C and D|
Major Issues with Apple and Pear Tree Pollination
Here are some notable issues with pear and apple tree pollination:
- Triploids: Some apple varieties such as Ribston Pippin, Bramley’s Seedling, and Jonagold are triploids, meaning that they should be pollinated with at least 2 other trees.
- Time of Flowering: Most tree varieties are incompatible because individual trees may have different periods of flowering in a year. You can have multiple trees but still won’t have fruits because some produce flowers too early, others too late.
- Male and Female Flowers: Even when multiple trees produce flowers at the same time, they may be producing flowers of different sexes. Follow the compatibility tables to prevent the issue of flower sexes.
- Climate Change and Bees: Due to climate change, many bee colonies are dying. Bees are the major insect pollinators, so if they die, fewer pear and apple trees will be pollinated.
- The Scent of Pear Flowers: Pear flowers do not have a strong scent like other trees, so you may need to attract pollinators by planting other trees.
Tips for Apple and Pear Tree Pollination
If you are looking to help your apple or pear trees along with their pollination, here are some tips you can use:
- Pollinate Your Trees Yourself: You can hand pollinate your trees by swabbing cotton on the anthers of flowers (make sure to collect enough pollen), mixing the collecting pollen in clean water (you can use rainwater), and then spraying the mixture on female flowers (using a spray bottle).
- Plant Trees at Most 50 Feet Apart: The closer the trees are to one another, the easier it will be for them to pollinate.
- Go Into Beekeeping: Beekeeping is not just for honey production. You will get more fruits in your pears and apple trees because bees are readily pollinate the trees.
Unfortunately, apples trees and pear trees cannot pollinate one another. You need to pollinate your apple and pear trees separately to produce fruits.
Remember to pollinate your tree with a compatible variety or let nature take its course instead.