Deciduous trees or shrubs, sometimes spiny. Leaves simple, alternate, entire or serrate, rarely lobed (not in Victoria), petiolate; stipules caducous. Inflorescence a corymbose raceme. Flowers bisexual, white or pinkish. Receptacle (hypanthium) cup-shaped; sepals 5, petals 5, shortly clawed; stamens 15–30; carpels 2–5, fused, enclosed within and united to receptacle, walls cartilaginous in fruit, ovules 2 per carpel. Fruit a subglobose, ovoid, obovoid or pyriform, fleshy pome, with numerous stone-cells, brown, red, green or yellow; seeds 2–5.
About 25 species, from Europe, Asia and northern Africa; 3 species naturalised in Australia.
Many species, cultivars and hybrids are grown for their edible fruits (pears). Outside of cultivation members of this genus can be difficult to distinguish from Malus (apples).