Trees or shrubs to 30 m high, usually deciduous. Leaves simple or pinnately compound, alternate, petiolate; stipules caducous or persistent. Inflorescence a terminal raceme or panicle. Flowers bisexual, white or pink. Receptacle (hypanthium) cup-shaped to obconical; sepals 5, deciduous or persistent; petals 5; stamens 15–many; carpels 2–5, fused, enclosed within and united to receptacle, walls cartilaginous or membranous in fruit, ovules 2(–4) per carpel. Fruit a globose, ellipsoid, ovoid or oblong fleshy pome, usually red or orange, rarely brown or yellow; seeds 3–5.
About 150 species from Europe, Asia and North America; 2 species naturalised in Australia.
A large range of variation in morphology and differences in breeding systems is exhibited in this genus, and it is sometimes treated as six genera. These six groups are currently treated subgenera (see Kalkman 2004; Phipps 2014).