Question the History of a pear or know some history? Post it here!

We know the pear Williams’ bon chrétien pear or simply williams is called Bartlett in the United States and Canada but I’d like to know more about the history of the pear and what the parents of Williams’ bon chrétien pear were. Bartlett is a parent of so many pears it would be nice to know more about it.

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This is what I found out about bartlett aka Williams’ bon chrétien "The origins of this variety are uncertain. “Bon Chrétien” (Good Christian) is named after Francis of Paola, a holy man whom King Louis XI of France had called to his deathbed as a healer in 1483. Francis offered the king a pear seed from his native Calabria with instructions to plant and care. Hence the pear tree was called “Good Christian”. The Williams pear is thought to date from 1765 to 1770 from the yard of an Aldermaston, England, schoolmaster named Mr. Stair or Mr. Wheeler, giving rise to the now-obscure synonyms ‘Aldermaston’ pear and ‘Stairs’ pear. A nurseryman named Williams later acquired the variety, and after introducing it to the rest of England, the pear became known as the Williams Pear.[1] However, the pear’s full name is Williams’ Bon Chretien, or “Williams’ good Christian.”[1]

In 1799 James Carter imported several Williams trees into the United States, and they were planted on the grounds of Thomas Brewer in Roxbury, Massachusetts.[1] The Massachusetts estate was later acquired by Enoch Bartlett of Dorchester, Massachusetts. Unaware of their origin, Bartlett named the pears after himself and introduced the variety into the United States. It was not realised that Bartlett and Williams Pears were the same until 1828, when new trees arrived from Europe.[1] By that time the Bartlett variety had become vastly popular in the United States, and they are still generally known as Bartlett pears in the US and Canada, although there are about 150 other synonyms worldwide." - Williams pear - Wikipedia

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This a great story about duchesse d angouleme pears according to
"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…"


Comice is a well known pear of the highest quality. This link gives a brief history of it

Comice appear in all sizes, but their shape is unique among varieties; having a rotund body with a very short, well-defined neck. They are most often green in color, and sometimes have a red blush covering small to large areas of the skin surface. However, some newer strains are almost entirely red in color. The succulent Comice can grow to be very large, and the jumbo sized beauties are often the ones that appear in gift boxes.

Although pears of all types have a popular association with the winter holidays, Comice have earned special recognition as the “Christmas Pear.” They are often the stars in holiday gift baskets and boxes, purchased in grocery store produce departments. Many stores feature Comice during the holiday season, but don’t limit yourself of this special variety to just holidays!
You can find Comice pears in many grocery store produce departments for several months of the year. Comice can be purchased from September through March. Look for Northwest Comice pears in the fresh fruit section where you buy produce.
Any area of green color on the skin of Comice may take on a slight yellow hue as the fruit ripens, however color is not the best determination for ripeness. Check the Neck for Ripeness™ by applying gentle thumb pressure near the stem end, and when the fruit gives slightly, it is ready to eat. Because Comice have very fragile skins, the pears may appear to be bruised on the surface, but more often than not this does not indicate damage on the juicy interior. Take special care in handling the fruit even before it is ripe. Bruising may not be apparent right away, but can show their signs as the fruit ripens.
The sweet buttery flesh of Comice can find no better compliment than when served with cheese, especially soft ripening cheeses like Brie, Camembert, or any of the blues. It is the extreme juiciness of Comice, which coincidentally makes them a poor choice for any process requiring cooking, that earns them such high accolades for eating freshly sliced. Ripen a Comice pear, section it and serve with your favorite cheese. Comice aficionados know this combination well… others have yet to realize what they’ve been missing! Let your tastebuds be your guide!
Known properly as Doyenné Du Comice, this French variety of pear was first propagated near Angers in the mid-1800’s. The first red sports were discovered in the 1900’s near Medford, Oregon. A “sport” is a rare, naturally occurring transformation that develops spontaneously on fruit trees. The first red sport of Comice, discovered in 1960, presented a somewhat striped pattern. A full-red sport was discovered about 10 years later, also in the Medford area"

The Comice pear originated in France, where it was first grown at the Comice Horticole in Angers in the 1840s.[1] A commemorative plaque in the Loire states: “In this garden was raised in 1849-50 the celebrated pear Doyenne du Comice by the gardener Dhomme and by Millet de la Turtaudiere, President of the Comice Horticole.”[2] It was brought to the United States in 1850 as a seedling.[3] By the 1870s, they had been introduced to Oregon by a French horticulturalist. Brothers Harry and David Rosenberg (the namesakes of the corporation Harry & David) began marketing their Comice pears under the name “Royal Riviera”. It remains one of their leading products.[4]

Forelle is a tiny very nice pear!

Forelle pears are a petit, bell shaped pear with yellow skin that is dotted with crimson red freckles (known as lenticles) signaling the pears’ maturity. Younger Forelle pears will be green while the red coloring is always present. Only ripe Forelle pears will possess qualities that highlight the pears best virtues. Ripe Forelle pears are fragrant, their flesh, crisp and firm yet juicy, with flavors bright and candy sweet.
Forelle pears are available summer through the following winter and sometimes into spring.
Current Facts
The Forelle pear, of the European family, Pyrus communis,is a bi-colored variety whose name, when translated in the pear’s native origins of Germany, means “trout”.
The Forelle pear’s size doesn’t make it a choice fruit for large recipes such as pies, and their flavors are truly best showcased in fresh eating form. They are a perfect lunchbox snack, great as an accompaniment in winter salads and can easily be used as a fresh garnish for savory soups. Forelle pears are a great companion ingredient to aged cheeses such as gorgonzola, camembert, gouda, and manchego, pork belly, prosciutto, dried berries, figs and nuts such as hazelnuts and pistachios. The pear’s sweetness is the perfect compliment to semi-sweet and bittersweet chocolate. Consider using the Forelle pear as a chocolate fondue item. Forelle pears should never be refrigerated as they will only ripen at room temperature.
The Forelle pear was a chance seedling first cultivated in Saxony, Germany in 1670. The Forelle pear is among only two dozen cultivars of European pears that are cultivated worldwide. The European pears require winter chilling to produce fruit. Without frost generally trees will not produce crops. The Forelle was introduced into America by German immigrants in the 1800’s. It is grown in the Pacific Northwest states of Oregon and Washington. Forelle pears are picked when they are mature but not fully ripened. Fully ripened tree fruit will most likely drop from the tree, never making it to successful harvest.”

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No one can forget Abate fetel! Wiki’s are not considered a reliable source by many but the story is plausible Abate Fetel - Wikipedia
"Originary of France, it was obtained by the abbot Fetel – hence the name – who started working on it in 1865, when he was the priest of Chessy, Rhône, and using several local cultivars as a starting point. Fetel was later transferred to Charentay, where he continued his hybridisations, ultimately obtaining the ‘Abate Fetel’ after a few years.[1]

Nowadays, the ‘Abate Fetel’ pear is the most produced and exported pear cultivar in Italy. It is mostly cultivated in the Emilia-Romagna region which is a Protected Geographical Indication for this cultivar. Another important producer country is Argentina.[2]
In Italy the ‘Abate Fetel’ is usually harvested in September; it maintains its quality for up to 23 weeks of cold storage. A characteristic feature is its elongated shape which is easily recognizable by consumers.[2]"

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Clara Frijs is relatively new to many of us who grow pears in the United States but it’s been around a long time. According to ARS GRIN " ‘Clara Frijs’ is an old Danish pear, and still one of the most popular varieties in Denmark. However, it does not seem to have had any circulation in other countries. This variety was first described by J. A. Bentzien in the Danish garden journal, Dansk Haugetidende, in 1858. Several trees of Clara Frijs were found by Count Carlsen in the Danish village of Skensved, but its true origin is unknown.
The fruit of Clara Frijs is of medium size, about 115 grams (4 oz.) per fruit. The skin is very smooth, and highly resistant, if not immune, to russeting. The ground-color is bright green which later becomes a uniform yellow. It occasionally has a pink cheek. The fruit is fine in quality, very juicy, sweet, with good flavor. Doyenne du Comice and Clara Frijs are the highest priced pears in Denmark. In the variety trials at Blangstedgaard, Clara Frijs has been one of the most productive varieties, although it shows a tendency toward biennial bearing. Fruit thinning is often necessary. Its picking date is mid-September, some three weeks before Conference.

Clara Frijs is compatible with quince, and has for many years been commonly used as an interstock for incompatible pear varieties grafted on quince. This variety keeps well for about two months at 0?C. Longer storage reduces dessert quality. Fire blight is not known in Denmark, therefore nothing is known about its susceptibility to this disease. Most of the Clara Frijs trees in Denmark are infected with vein-yellows virus. However, virus-free material is being propagated by the State Department of Plant Pathology. Propagation material should be available within two or three years.?J. Vittrup Christensen, Blangstedgaard, Odense, Denmark. from: American Pomological Socitey, Fruit Varieties Journal, 1962.

Danish. Fruit medium to large, pale yellow, dotted; fleshwhite, melting, juicy,sugary, perfumed; good; August. – The Pears of New York, 1921

Important commercial cultivar in Sweden - 2002

Undamaged after -30 F in Cold Spring, Minnesotta."

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This post has some early Canadian pear history Canadian Pears Enie, Menie, Miney, Moe, Phileson. The harrow delight , harrow sweet etc. are well known Canadian pears from the modern times but I enjoy now growing some of these older Canadian pears from the earlier efforts! This post has some history about the Ayer and Douglas pears developed Kansas Anyone growing the Ayer pear? Its not the same pear as Ayers. This post discusses more about Douglas Douglas Pear

I don’t have a history to post but I have a comment to make.

Because ofa high praise of Forelle pears from this forum, I bought and ate Forelle pears twice. Both were spitter.

The first bag was from Costco in MA. I put them in a fridge for week (it must have been in cold storage before hitting markets anyway) and later on the counter before eating.

The second time I bought them in Germany. Put them in a fridge for about a week. And ate them.

They tasted awfully dry. So dry I ( and others who tried them with me) could not finished one pear. Bland and dry. They were beautiful pears. The color was the same as your description above.

Also, none of them were “petit”. They were the same size as Harrow Sweet or a bit bigger.

If Forelle pear is as good as the description, the only way I could get good ones would be to grow them myself.

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Forelle is known to be highly variable. They are very difficult to grow in my understanding. So far I’m growing them with no problems but that may be short lived. If they start producing pretty soon I’ll send you one. Be patient it may be a couple years since I just grafted them recently. I’m concerned about them because some of the best pear growers I know don’t want to grow forelle due to it’s notorious disease susceptibility. I have to find out for myself.

I just hope it tastes good if home growm :grin:

I have kept my eye on my Abate Fetel graft. Heard it is FB susceptible.

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Lets hope FB susceptibility is greatly overstated on some of these types. Seems to me @wildscaper has some experience with abbé fetel and did not have FB issues if my memory serves me correctly. Think that was Texas growing conditions as well where FB pressure is higher than normal.

On my Google Drive server I have the complete report of the 1st U.S. Agricultural Commisioner, dated 1862 – computer transcribed into text and photos. Search it for: pears

Sometimes you will get unrelated sentences (for example, “appears”). But if you’re a fruit history nut (pun intended) then you’ll likely enjoy this document for a number of reasons. :slight_smile:


Old pear books is my kind of thing! Thanks Richard


That’s correct! My tree, on quince did not get blight when others near by did. It made a bush more than a tree but the fruit made a decent size. I have said many times I think that the lack of vigor that quince imparts helps reduce FB. I admit this is hardly empirical evidence!


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Apple, Pear, and Apricot orchard planted in Fruita Utah in the 1880’s.


@scottfsmith grows many types of pears and is familiar with the history of these luscious fruits better than most. Many years ago he posted information about Jean Baptiste Von Mons who was the breeder of many of the best pears we have today such as bosc and Anjou. To this day his pear breeding skills have not been matched . Jean-Baptiste Van Mons - Wikipedia


Very cool! Man I am always jealous of your pear talk. One day I hope to have a better place to grow them again.



Youve grown some really unusual pears! No need to be jealous of me I grow a lot of pears but I always will have a lot to learn too. In a lifetime we never have enough time to learn it all!


Nope we won’t! When I had my nursery just north of Austin I was able to grow a lot of cool pears. I had land and a manageable squirrel population. Not in Dallas. Too small of a back yard, not enough sun, squirrels eat everything including metal mesh bagged pears! Combine that with several years of near zero chill and I just don’t do well with pears in big D. Someday I hope to have a place outside of town with some room to breath…and grow pears!