Pear wood comes from any species of tree in the genus Pyrus. The wood from these trees is very hard and can be carved into intricate designs without splitting or breaking. Woodwind instruments have historically been made of pear wood, which is also used to make furniture. When burned, the wood gives off a distinctive odor and imparts a flavor that makes it useful for smoking meats.
A relatively expensive wood, pear wood is harvested from pear trees, which grow slowly and do not reach great heights. These trees are usually cultivated for their fruit, and in most cases, the wood is harvested once fruit bearing trees stop producing. It can take decades to grow a pear tree from seed and wait for it to stop producing fruit. Though the wood can be harvested earlier, the trees are valuable for their fruit and are not often grown solely for lumber.
Most of the time, pear wood is a shade of yellow or pink. There are often many different colors within a single piece of wood, blending together gradually rather than appearing as distinct lines. This makes it relatively easy to match pieces. Occasionally, pear trees have dark purple heartwood.
With its extremely hard consistency, pear wood is prized for its ability to hold up to heat, moisture, and woodworking tools. It is difficult to break or crack and can be carved into intricate designs that would be impossible in softer woods. Though its usefulness is limited by its small size, furniture that is carved out of this wood is often ornate and will hold up well over time.
Small pieces of pear wood are also useful as kitchen tools because they withstand heat well and do not add flavor to the food if they are not allowed to burn. When burned, pear wood will release a distinctive smell and flavor. Meats are often smoked with wood from pear trees.
Historically, pear wood has often been used to make woodwind instruments. Clarinets, oboes, recorders, and other instruments have been made out of this wood, which is strong and easy to work. Woodwind instruments require precise carving, and working with a wood, such as pear, that will not crack easily when drilled, helps instrument makers make changes to the wood without breaking it. It also holds up well when wet, which is an important quality for woodwind instruments, as they become filled with condensation when they are played.