The European Pear, Pyrus communis, is a species of pear native to central and eastern Europe and southwest Asia. The European Pear is one of the most important fruits of temperate regions, being the species from which most orchard pear cultivars grown in Europe, North America and Australia have been developed. Two other species of pear, the Nashi Pear, Pyrus pyrifolia, and the Chinese white pear bai li, Pyrus × bretschneideri, are more widely grown in eastern Asia.
The cultivated European pear (P. communis subsp. communis) is thought to be descended from two subspecies of wild pear, categorized as P. communis subsp. pyraster (syn. P. pyraster) and P. communis subsp. caucasica (syn. P. caucasica), which are interfertile with domesticated pears. Archeological evidence shows that pears “were collected from the wild long before their introduction into cultivation,” according to Zohary and Hopf. Although they point to finds of pears in sites in Neolithic and Bronze Age European sites, “reliable information on pear cultivation first appears in the works of the Greek and the Roman writers.” Theophrastus, Cato the Elder, and Pliny the Elder all present information about the cultivation and grafting of pears.