Not all pears are friends - Duchess D’ Angoulme & Clara Frijs

Clara fries and Duchess d’ Angoulme don’t appear to be friends! This morning I was shocked to find the two trees grown very close together are showing foliage problems. Clara frijs has browning leaves but Duchess does not. My grandpa showed me this phenomenon when I was a little boy with peaches, pawpaw, and persimmon not getting along. It’s interesting and I know little about it. Maybe another grower who keeps trees closer together has seen this before too. The only leaves that turned brown came in direct contact with the other tree. These are my backup grafts that were not meant to be a long term solution. This year I picked pears off this Duchess D’Angoulme so it seemed like it was working out ok. What are your opinions?


You are lucky to have trees that are big enough to grow together, lol. But it is good to know , would not want to put them together on a franken tree


Duchesse d’ Angouleme probably did not’ appreciate having to share space with Clara Frijs


Nice Pear Huh


Nice painting! It does seem the duchess name is fitting for the pear named after her! There are many articles about the pear and those articles frequently bring up the fact that many are not the right pear at all. Thankfully the article and picture are comclusive my tree is authentic though the flavor never seems to reach its best here.
Photo courtesy of the Felix Gillet institute
“The original tree was a wilding (a tree that grows by seed from a discarded core) grown in a garden near Angers, Maine-et-Loire, France. About 1808, M. Audusson, a nurseryman at Angers, got permission to propagate the pear, then calling it the Poire des Eparonnais. In 1820, he sent a basket of the fruit to the Duchesse d’Angouleme asking permission to name the pear in her honor. Permission was granted.

Between 1880 and 1907 this tree was imported in America by Felix Gillet, a young Frenchman who realized that miners arriving in California in the wake of the Gold Rush would need fruit and nut trees to feed themselves. Gillet opened his nursery in 1871, in Nevada City, California, the epicenter of the Gold Rush, and began selling his favorite varieties. Felix Gillet propagated in California some of the best fruit and nut trees and established the foundations for the major agricultural industries of the Pacific Western states. In his 1880 Catalogue, Felix Gillet described this pear as “Very large and very juicy; productive and regular bearer.”

Even though it is uncertain if this pear was ever in commercial production, it was certainly planted from homesteads of the Sierra during the Gold Rush era . The fruit investigators of the Felix Gillet Institute have found only one Duchesse d’Angouleme tree growing wild on an old homestead in Sierra County, CA. With many decades of non-human intervention -without irrigation, fertilization, pruning or pest control- it still yearly bears a large crop!

This abundantly productive heirloom tree produces large pears that are of very good unique flavor. Its shape varies with irregular and uneven surfaces, bumpy even. It ripens to a warm yellow, thin skin netted with russet. When mature, it has firm white flesh that turns buttery and melting, with richly sweet flavor.

As of 2014 it is found for sale on-line from a couple of heirloom nurseries. Yet, the Felix Gillet Institute researchers hold doubts on whether the Duchesse d’Angouleme has been confused with the Duchesse Bronzee, which is being sold as the Duchess d’Angouleme. So who is to say, how many are actually out there…”
This has all been said before I guess Question the History of a pear or know some history? Post it here! - #29 by k8tpayaso

Here is a little more about the pear and it’s name Hortus Camdenensis | Pyrus communis ‘Duchesse d’Angoulême’

“Pyrus communis ‘Duchesse d’Angoulême’
‘Fruit large, roundish-oblong, tapering towards the stalk, with an extremely uneven knobby surface, usually measuring about three inches and a half each way, or four inches deep, and three inches and a half in diameter, but sometimes much larger. Eye deeply sunk in an irregular hollow. Stalk an inch long, stout, deeply inserted in an irregular cavity. Skin dull yellow, copiously and irregularly spotted with broad russet patches. Flesh rich, melting, very juicy, and high-flavoured, with a most agreeable perfume. Ripe in October and November.’ [George Lindley – Orchard Guide p.372/1831].

Horticultural & Botanical History
‘The original tree of Duchesse d’Angoulême was a wilding growing in a garden near Angers, Maine-et-Loire, France. About 1808, M. Audusson, a nurseryman at Angers, appreciating the beauty and excellent quality of the pear, obtained the right to propagate it. In 1812 he began selling trees of the variety under the name of “Poire des Eparonnais.” In 1820, M. Audusson sent a basket of the fruit to the Duchesse d’Angoulême with a request for permission to name the pear in her honor, a request which was granted. At the exhibition of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society held in 1830, Samuel G. Perkins showed a specimen which measured eleven and three-tenths inches. It was the only one that grew on the tree, and was considered to be the first fruit of this variety produced in America. The American Pomological Society added Duchesse d’Angoulême to its catalog-list of fruits in 1862.’ [Pears of New York p.156].
Originated from Éparonnais, near Champigné in Anjou about 1812 [HP pl.LXVI/1878]. Also figured in Saint-Hilaire pl.56/1828.

History at Camden Park
Listed only in the 1857 catalogue in an Addendum as ‘Duchesse d’Augoulême’. This is amended in Macarthur’s hand to ‘Duchesse d’Angoulême’ in a copy of the catalogue used by him for this purpose [Pear no.56/1857]. ‘56. Very large, good bearer.’ [Diary B, MP A2951/1862]. Obtained from Veitch’s Nursery, probably the original Exeter premises.”

Don’t count Clara frijs out just yet


“”I’m an equal opportunity fruit eater. Whether the fruit grows on a tree, vine, bush, or wee plant, chances are, I will like it. And one of the joys of having some land and a penchant to plant, is that I can try out uncommon fruit varieties that may offer up a little something different or unique in look, growth habit and flavor palate.

My latest sweetie-pie of the plate and orchard is a pear from Denmark: Comtesse Clara Frijs. A tip of the hat to the Danes, for this is a succulent, crisp summer pear that drips with a honey-flavored juice that is light and inviting, and leaving you wanting more. (Oh Tom, you do go on.) Seriously, this is a pear that captures the giving crunch of a Asian pear with the rich flavors of a European pear. And not to poo-poo our local favorite, but the Clara Frijs pear outshines and out-delivers the Bartlett pear in the areas of texture, taste and storability.

Here’s a description from Fedco Trees:

Comptesse Clara Frijs Pear Late Summer. Denmark, 19th c. Very old delectable dessert pear, first described in 1858 by JA Bentzien in the Danish garden journal Dansk Haugetidende and thought to be from the village of Skensved. Medium-sized yellowy-green oblong obovate-pyriform rather thick-skinned fruit sometimes with a very slight pink blush—like a spot of rouge. The buttery aromatic flesh is firm but not crisp with no grit cells. Juicy but not dripping. You can eat it in the car. You can eat it right down to nothing. Keeps for a month. Solid rugged hardy tree. Z4. ME Grown.

When I shared my spartan first crop of Clara Frijs, taste-testing friends cooed and gushed, and asked for more. If you’re looking for a summer pear, that is an early variety that ripens readily off the tree, Clara Frijs is your new best friend.

An unassuming package for such a sweet treat
An unassuming package for such a sweet treat

Why I like the Clara Frijs Pear

exceptionally good-eating
firm to crisp
minimal core (can eat everything but the stem)
light honey flavor
small to medium size
handsome tree
pest-free (at least here)
I’d been harboring this sweet pear tree in a pot for several years. Not sure what my problem was, but I just couldn’t seem to get it planted. Lucky for me, it endured and didn’t hold a grudge once planted. Within in two years, Clara Frijs was a welcomed and fruiting presence in the orchard.”

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I read that Clara Frijs is compatible with quince rootstock and can be used as an interstem for non-compatible varieties. I like the idea of a free standing, manageable sized, quick to produce pear tree. I suspect they would fare better then dwarf apples without support or irrigation. I want to do an experimental tightly planted test area with European pears on quince and Asians on 333.


Clark - did anyone ever answer your question? I have 2 Duchesse Angoulemes and am in search of the Clara Frijs. would like to know more about this phenomena!

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If you need some Clara frijs scion wood let me know and we can test it next year. My trees looked great side by side for a couple of years. It will take awhile to determine the issue but I have another theory that could be wind related assuming the duchess leaves are causing damage to Clara frijs on the other tree. If you want to try it out you could graft Clara frijs on the top of your duchess and find out.

That sounds very interesting and I would like to try the Clara Frijs. I will take you up on that next spring.

Thank you

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My Comptess Clara Frijs pear looks like it wants to grow in a columnar shape…it that typical ?

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Yes clara frijs has very upright growth.

Thanks Clark in Kansas ! I have an existing Bartlett that is in decline but producing nice pears…it is hollowed out by bugs…I have what I am guessing, by the shape of the fruit , is a D’Anjou ?..the pears are smallish with a slight tartness to them…more flavourful than Bartlett…,those were here when we moved in…and I have planted a Clara Frijs…a Concorde…which I had to hack off at about 10" …now growing back from above the graft nicely…a Krazulya, a Vekovaya, and a Julienne. That’s it for pears…oh I also planted a Bosc but it didn’t make it…growing from below the graft so I may try to graft onto the sprout.

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In this case long term Clara frijs and Duchess d’ angoulme did fine together. The issues I was seeing were not incompatibility between trees. My location is very windy so trees at times get very battered by the weather. The two trees are different so Duchess d’ angoulme leaves showed less damage than Clara frijs. It’s cold, hot, windy, wet or dry here at different times like most locations. We do have much more wind here than most parts of the country. This part of the orchard on my property gets battered at times.

Hello. This spring someone gave me a Comtesse de Clara little twig I grafted on a small Patten pear tree. The leaves on the CC scion are distorted like a herbicide injury. With what I previously read on this post there is perhaps a kind of incompatibility. I would like to share a picture.

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