The characteristics and distribution of vessel elements in xylem of three main pear rootstocks (Pyrus ussuriensis, P. betuleafolia, P. calleryana) in China were examined by tissue isolation, paraffin sectioning and biometric statistics. The pattern of secondary wall thickening and lignification, pitting pattern, main types of perforation plates and proportion of tail, end walls, and tail length of vessel elements did not differ among the species. However, the proportion of vessel elements with multiperforate perforation and two tapered end walls and vessel frequency were higher in P. ussuriensis and in P. betuleafolia than P. calleryana. The diameter of vessel elements and specific conductivity were higher in P. calleryana than in P. ussuriensis and P. betuleafolia. Morphological structure and ecological adaptability are correlated in Pyrus varieties in different habitats. The vessel elements of pear rootstock species from south China are shorter in length and broader in diameter, which appears to directly affect hydraulic conductance capacity and therefore may be suitable for conducting water with high efficiency. The vessel elements of pear rootstock species from north China are longer in length and smaller in diameter with higher vessel frequency, which may help for conducting water safely.