Twenty-ninth Annual Report Vol. 2 Part II
THE PEARS OF NEW YORK
BY U. P. HEDRICK
G. H. HOWE O. M. TAYLOR E. H. FRANCIS H. B. TUKEY
Report of the New York Agricultural Experiment Station for the Year 1921
J. B. LYON COMPANY, PRINTERS 1921
To the Honorable Board of Control of the New York Agricultural Experiment Station:
Gentlemen : I have the honor to transmit herewith the manuscript of the sixth of the series of monographs on fruits, to be entitled "The Pears of New York." I recommend that, under the authority of chapter 636 of the Laws of 1919, this be submitted for publication as Part II of the report of this Station for 1921.
The wide-spread use of and frequent expressions of appreciation for the preceding books of this series are ample justification for the preparation and publication of this similar treatise on pears. Further, the added years of experience and observation of Dr. Hedrick and his assistants serve to bring each successive monograph to a higher state of excellence and completeness. The present work is a splendid example of painstaking care in the collection and compilation of all available evidence concerning all known varieties of pears.
With the publication of this volume, the series will include books on apples, peaches, plums, cherries and pears, all of our leading tree-fruits of the non-citrus type. The book on grapes and the "Sturtevant's Notes on Edible Plants " are similar treatises published in uniform style with those dealing with tree-fruits and it is hoped that the series may eventually be extended to include similar discussions of small fruits.
"The Pears of New York" cannot fail to find an extremely useful place in the literature of fruit-growing, and its publication will be welcomed by the fruit growers of the State and by horticulturists the world over.
R. W. THATCHER,
The Pears of New York is sixth in the series of books,on hardy fruits being published by the New York Agricultural Experiment Station. The object and scope of these treatises have been given in prefaces of the preceding books, and though this work does not differ from its predecessors, for the convenience of readers the aim and the contents of the book in hand are set forth in this foreword.
Broadly speaking, the aim is to make The Pears of New York a complete record of the development of the pear wherever cultivated up to the present time. With this end in view an attempt is made: To give an account of the history and uses of the pear; to depict the botanical characters of cultivated pears; to describe pear growing in this country and more particularly in New York; and, lastly, to give in full detail the synonymy, bibliography, economic status, and full descriptions of the most important cultivated pears with brief notices of varieties of minor importance.
The reader will want to know what considerations have governed the selection of varieties for color plates and full descriptions. These are several: (1) The value of a variety for home or commercial orchards. (2) Noteworthy new varieties. (3) Varieties desirable in breeding new pears. (4) A few sorts are described and illustrated to show the trend of evolution in the pear.
In the use of horticultural names the rules of the American Pomological Society as adopted at the meeting in Columbus, Ohio, in 1919, have been followed. With a very few varieties these rules have not been followed since the changes required by their strict observance would augment rather than diminish confusion.
The references given are those that have been used in ascertaining the history and. economic status or in verifying the description of varieties. The synonyms created by pomologists whose works we have had have been noted, but in no case are synonyms given only when quoted by pomologists from another writer. One of the chief aims of The Pears of New York is to set straight in high degree the names of pears.
Biographical sketches of men who have been most prominent in pear growing in the United States are to be found in the footnotes. These are written to give in some measure the credit and honor due to those who introduced new varieties or improved their culture. A knowledge of the career of these men is indispensable to a full comprehension of the industry of growing pears.
U. P. HEDRICK, Horticulturist, New York Agricultural Experiment Station
THE PEARS OF NEW YORK
HISTORY OF THE PEAR
The pear has no history if history be defined as a record of evolution. Even the annals of the pear, which but state events in chronological order, are a heap of confused facts and dates with important data missing at every. turn. The origin of the cultivated pear is so completely hidden in prehistoric darkness that it can never be known precisely from what wild pear it came. The historian must content himself with recording what the pear was when written records began; what the touch of time has done since the first written accounts; and what the events and by whom directed which have aided time in making its impressions since cultivated pears have accompanied its flight.
Happily, it does not matter much what the pear was before husbandmen appeared on the scene. But from the day the pear began to supply the needs of men, and in its turn to require ministration from those it nourished, its history becomes of importance to all mankind. Those whom it helps , sustain as well as those who tend the pear, may well ask: What was the raw material when the domestication of the pear began? How has this material been fashioned into the pear of the present? Who began domestication and who has carried it forward? And, gauged by past progress,, what further progress is possible? These are questions of prime importance . to those who seek to improve the pear; they throw light on the culture of the pear; and they are of general interest to all husbandmen, and to all interested in the world's food supply. The history of the pear is important, as has been said, only as it is connected with the history of man. Yet, this history must begin with the wild pear.
Botanists number from twenty to twenty-five species of pears, all of which are found in the northern hemisphere of the Old World, there ' being no true pear native to the southern hemisphere or to the New World. Some ten or twelve wild pears are found in China,' several of which overrun the limits of China; three or four are natives of Japan; at least one has its habitat in Korea; another is to be found in the western Himalayas; while the remainder, some eight or ten species, are found westward from Turkestan, through Persia and Asia Minor into southern and western Europe and northern Africa. From these statements as to habitats it is seen that pears grow wild over a very extended area and under quite varied conditions; therefore, it would be expected that the several species are quite distinct, differing chiefly, however, from a horticultural point of view, in the fruits.
But three of these wild species are now under common cultivation, though it is possible that through hybridization the blood of one or two more are to be found in cultivated varieties. Several others have horticultural possibilities either for their fruit, as means through which new characters may be introduced into cultivated pears, or as stocks upon which to grow orchard varieties. The three species of chief horticultural importance are Pyrus communis Linn., P. nivalis Jacq., and P. serotina Rehd.
The pear of common cultivation in ancient and modern orchards is Pyrus communis, native of southern Europe and Asia as far east as Kashmir. The species is now to be found naturalized in forests and byways of northern Europe, as it is in parts of America, so that it is impossible to tell precisely what its ancient habitat was. While most often to be found in mountainous regions in the great area which it inhabits, wild pears are common enough in the forests of Europe and western Asia so that it is probable that most of the early inhabitants of this part of the Old World enlivened their fare, obtained with the spear or the bow, with ready-made food from the pear. The species runs into at least three botanical forms, a dozen or more horticultural divisions and between two and three thousand orchard varieties.
Pyrus nivalis, the Snow pear, is a small tree native of southern Europe, more particularly of Austria and northern Italy, from which region it has spread in modern times as an escape from cultivation into neighboring countries. It is called Snow pear because the fruits are not fit to eat until after snow falls. The French call it the "Sage-leaved pear" (Poirier sauger), from the fact that the under side of the leaves is covered with down so that the leaf resembles that of garden sage. The Snow pear is cultivated in southern Europe, particularly in France, for the making of perry for which purpose several varieties are grown. Probably the Greeks and Romans used fruit of this species for perry so that it may be said to have had attention from man, if not care under cultivation, from the earliest times. It is doubtful if it has been hybridized with P. communis, parent of nearly all cultivated pears. The Snow pear is not cultivated in America but is to be found in botanical collections.
From Pyrus serotina came the Japanese, Chinese, or Sand pears of pomologists. The species is a native of central and eastern China and is found wild in Japan, but whether as a native or as an escape from cultivation it is impossible to say. There are three botanical forms of the species and possibly a score of horticultural varieties cultivated for their fruits and as ornamentals. Of all the species of Pyrus found in western Asia* this, in the light of present knowledge, is most closely related to the common pear, with which it hybridizes freely.
We have now discovered in what countries the progenitors of cultivated pears grow spontaneously, and are therefore ready to search for the first landmarks in the domestication of the three cultivated species. What has ancient literature to say on the subject? We turn first to the Bible and find that the pear is not mentioned in sacred literature, and that, according to commentators on the Sanscrit and Hebrew languages, there is no name in the tongues of Biblical lands for the pear. Nor should we expect ancient notices of the pear in northwest India or Persia, for the pear does not flourish in hot countries. The survey next turns to ancient Greece where landmarks are at once sighted which must be put down as the earliest records of the pear, and as such deserve full consideration.
THE PEAR IN ANCIENT GREECE
In ancient Greece we find the first landmarks and begin the history of the pear as a cultivated plant. It is wrong, however, to assume that the beginning of the cultivation of the pear, or of any plant, was contemporaneous with the writing of even the oldest books. Mention of a cultivated plant in a book is proof that its domestication antedates the writing of the book. It is not easy to imagine tribes of semi-civilized men in southern Europe and Asia who did not make use of the apples, pears, quinces, plums, cherries, almonds, olives, figs, pomegranates, and grapes which grew wild in this land of gardens and orchards, and who did not minister to their needs as husbandmen long before men wrote books. Names for orchard operations, as planting, grafting, and pruning, in the simplest dialects of primitive peoples, establish the fact that husbandry long antedates writing, as would be expected from the greater need of the one than of the other.
Plutarch, a Greek writer, A. D. 50-120, enlightens us as to the early use of the pear by the Greeks, and also as to the Grecian name for the fruit and tree. He says in his Greek Questions (51):
"Why do the boys of the Argives playing at a certain festival call themselves Ballachrades? (Ballo, I throw; achras, a wild pear.)
"It is because they say that those who were first brought down by Inachus (founder of Argos) from the rural districts into the plains were nourished on wild pears (achrades). But wild pears (they say) were first seen by the Greeks in Peloponnesus, when that country was still called Apia; whence wild pears were named apioi. (Apios, a pear-tree; apion, a pear.)"
The pear is one of the "gifts of the gods" which Homer tells us grew in the garden of Alcinous. It is certain, therefore, whether or not this is the earliest mention of the pear in Greek literature, that in Homer's time, nearly one thousand years before the Christian era, the pear was cultivated in Greece. As this garden of Alcinous furnishes the earliest noteworthy landmarks of the pear, and is moreover the most renowned of heroic times, an early paradise of trees, vines, and herbs, it is worth while to take a look at it with a view of discovering the status of the pear at this early date. Stripped of the harmonious rhyme and pleasing rhythm of Homer's poetry, the garden is described in English prose as follows:
"And without the court-yard hard by the door is a great garden, of four plough-gates, and a hedge runs round on either side. And there grow tall trees blossoming, pear-trees and pomegranates, and apple-trees with bright fruit, and sweet figs, and olives in their bloom. The fruit of these trees never perisheth, neither faileth winter or summer, enduring through all the year. Evermore the West Wind blowing brings some fruits to birth and ripens others. Pear upon pear waxes old, and apple on apple, yea, and cluster ripens upon cluster of the grape, and fig upon fig. There too hath he a faithful vineyard planted, whereof the one part is being dried by the heat, a sunny plot on level ground, while other grapes men are gathering, and yet others they are treading in the wine-press. In the foremost row are unripe grapes that cast the blossom, and others there be that are growing black to vintaging. There too, skirting the furthest line, are all manner of garden beds, planted trimly, that are perpetually fresh, and therein are two fountains of water, whereof one scatters his streams all about the garden, and the other runs over against it beneath the threshold of the court-yard, and issues by the lofty house, and thence did the townsfolk draw water. These were the splendid gifts of the gods in the palace of Alcinous.1"
Divested of the spell with which the poet's flight of imagination bewitches us, we find that the wonderful garden of Alcinous is, after all. rather trifling, probably of small extent, and containing an orchard, a vineyard, garden beds and two fountains of water, which brings us to the conclusion that this renowned garden would cut but a sorry figure beside modern gardens; but, on the other hand, we are made sure that certain fruits, among them the pear, were commonly cultivated in Greece a thousand years before Christ's time. There is no hint in Homer as to whether there were as yet varieties of pears, or as to whether fruits were as yet pruned, grafted, fertilized and otherwise cared for. For indications that these arts of the orchard were under practice, we must pass onto the writings of another great Greek, Theophrastus.
Between Homer and Theophrastus nearly 600 years intervene, in all of which time traces of the pear are few and uncertain. But from Theophrastus, to whom botanists accord the title." Father of Botany," we know that orcharding had been making progress, and that the pear, among other fruits, must have been as well known and nearly as well cared for in his time, 370-286 B. C, as in this twentieth century. All the expedients we now know to assist nature to bring pears to perfection, save spraying and cross-pollination, were known to Theophrastus, although of course the evolution from the wild state as indicated by number and diversity of kinds had not progressed so far. Out of one of the books of Theophrastus, Enquiry into Plants, a very good treatise on the pear might be compiled and one better worth following than many of his more modern imitators. To quote Theophrastus at length is impossible, but space must be given to a summary of what he says about pears.
Theophrastus distinguishes between wild and cultivated pears and says that the cultivated forms have received names. He speaks of the propagation of pears from seeds, roots, and. cuttings and makes plain that plants grown from seed "lose the character of their kind and produce a degenerate kind." Grafting is described. The nature of the ground is said to regulate the distance for planting pears, and the lower slopes of hills are recommended as the best sites for pear orchards. Root-pruning, girdling the stems, and driving iron pegs in the trunk and other methods of "punishing" trees are said to hasten the bearing time. Even the necessity of cross-pollination is recognized though of course the reasons for it are not known. Thus, Theophrastus says: "Trees which are apt to shed their fruit before ripening it are almond, apple, pomegranate, pear, and, above all, fig and date-palm; and men try to find the suitable remedies for this. This is the reason for the process called 'caprification'; gall-insects come out of the wild figs which are hanging there, eat the tops of the cultivated figs, and so make them swell." The growth of the pear on various soils and in diverse situations is compared; he makes mention of a "peculiar, red and hairy worm" which infested the pear of these old Greek orchards. In Pontus, it is stated, "pears and apples are abundant in a great variety of forms and are excellent." "General diseases" are enumerated as "those of being worm-eaten, sun-scorched, and rot." Certain affections due to season and situation are mentioned, as freezing, scorching, and injury from winds.
This is but a brief epitome of what Theophrastus writes of the pomology of the Greeks, and only topics in which the pear is specifically mentioned are set down and not all of these. By inference, one who reads Theophrastus might apply much more to the pear. Yet enough has been said to prove the point that pear culture was as well established in Greece 300 years B. C. as in 1900 years A. D. One leaves Theophrastus, satisfied that pear-growers of his day had about the same problems that growers have nowadays and solved them by the same sort of reasoning intelligence.
In crediting Theophrastus as the earliest writer on pomology, we may assume that there were earlier writers from whom he must have received much knowledge. Perhaps greater writers on botany and pomology preceded him, since he cites older authors on the same subjects whose books have been lost. His alone of the books of its kind have come down to us from ancient Greece. Theophrastus was the friend and pupil of Aristotle, another philosopher and prince of science, and both in turn were taught by Plato. Who shall say, then, from whence Theophrastus received his knowledge? Aristotle is said to have written two books on botany antedating the Enquiry into Plants of Theophrastus, neither of which has survived the passing centuries. May not these great minds have been indebted to authors whose books and names have perished? These speculations serve to remind us again that the beginnings of botany and pomology long antedate written records.
There were Greeks who wrote on agriculture after Theophrastus, and before the Roman treatises on farm management, a few of which are to be mentioned in the next topic. Of books, as monuments of vanished minds, however, there are none to indicate the activities of Greek farmers who wrote, but there are citations to show that ancient Greek literature on farming was voluminous. Thus, Marcus Terentius Varro (B. C. 116-28), called "the most learned of the Romans," in his eightieth year wrote a book on Roman agriculture for the guidance of his wife in the practice of farming. Learned old Varro believed in "book farming" or science with practice, of which we hear so much nowadays. He begins his treatise by invoking Greek and Roman deities to aid his wife, and names fifty monographs on husbandry written by Greeks, in which, he tells this early farmerette, she will find all of the practical information she needs. This is but one of several sources from which we learn that in the making of books on agriculture there was no end in the heroic days of Greece as in modern times.
THE PEAR IN ANCIENT ROME
Italy, by common consent, is the garden of the world, and it would be strange if the pear had not been taken to this favored land with the earliest tillers of orchards, or if attempts had not been made to domesticate the wild pears found in the northern mountains. And so we may assume, with no very definite proofs, that the pear was cultivated in ancient Rome some hundreds of years before the Christian era. In Cato, the first book written in Latin on agriculture, the pear is discussed, and six varieties are named and described. What had this illustrious Roman, known generally as a statesman and scholar, to do with pomology?
Marcus Portius Cato (B. C. 235-150), called the elder Cato, besides serving Rome in state and army, wrote a treatise on farming, fruit-growing, and gardening, which, first of its kind in Latin literature, may be read with greater profit than the works of most writers of our own day in agriculture. Cato was preeminently the first agricultural philosopher, and no one who has followed him has packed more shrewd agricultural philosophy in a book than he. But it is as a pomologist that Cato concerns us most at this time. Cato describes almost every method of propagating, grafting, caring for, and keeping fruits known to twentieth-century fruit-growers. He describes, also, many varieties of fruits, as well as of vegetables, grains, and breeds of farm animals. Among Cato's fruits are six varieties of pears. What is of especial interest in this history is that Cato writes as if the practices of agriculture and the plants and animals he described were not only established but ancient in his time.
Varro, whose standing as a Roman writer on agriculture is noted above, says nothing of varieties of pears, but gives directions for grafting pear-trees, among other methods that of inarching of which he seems the first ancient writer to take note, thereby justifying, in small degree, it is true, the appellation often given him, " the most modern of all the ancients." Varro also tells how pears should be stored. While, therefore, he says nothing that helps in following the evolution of the pear, yet his accounts of grafting and storing make plain the fact that this fruit was a standard product of the times. Were it worth while, still other early Roman treatises -on husbandry might be quoted to establish the place of the pear in the agriculture of ancient Rome, but it is chiefly in the evolution of the fruit we are concerned and so pass from Varro to Pliny, who, in his Natural History, adds to Cato's six varieties thirty-five new sorts, giving a total of forty-one for the generation following Christ.
Pliny, more or less discredited as a scientist because he was a compiler and, as the men of science for science sake never forget to point out, at all times of a utilitarian bent of mind, makes a most important contribution to the history of the pear as a domesticated fruit. Indefatigable compiler as he was, few cultivated pears of his or more ancient times could have escaped his notice, and the thread of the utilitarian running through his Natural History makes all the more important what he has to say in this study of the domestication and improvement of the pear. A good authority says that there are sixty manuscript copies of Pliny and eighty different editions, no two of which are exactly alike. Allowing some latitude, therefore, to the translator, Pliny's descriptions of pears run as follows:
"For the same reason (as in the case of apples) in the case of pears .the name Superba (proud) is given; these are small, but earliest ripe. The Crustumia are most pleasant to all; next to these the Falerna, so called from the wine, since they have such abundance of sap or milk, as it is called; among these are those which others call Syrian from their dark color. Of the rest, some are called by one name in one place and by another in another. Some by their Roman names reveal their discoverers, as the Decimiana, and what they call the Pseudo-Decimiana, derived from that; the Dolabelliana with their long stalk; the Pomponiana of protuberant (full-breasted) shape; the Liceriana; the Seviana and those which spring from these, the Turraniana, distinguished by their length of stalk; the Favoniana of reddish color, a little larger than the Superba; the Lateriana; the Aniciana, which ripens in late autumn and has a pleasant acid flavor. The Tiberiana are so called because the Emperor Tiberius was very fond of them. They get more color from the sun and grow to larger size, but otherwise are the same 'as the Liceriana. These bear the name of the country from which they come; the Amerina, latest of all; the Picentina; the Numantina; the Alexandria; the Numidiana; the Greek and among them the Tarentine, the Signina, which others from their color call Testacea (like tiles, or brick-colored), like the Onychina (onyx) and Purpurea (purple). From their odor are named the Myrapia (myrrh-pear), Laurea (laurel), Nardina (nard); from their season the Hordearia (barley, at the barley-harvest); from the shape of their neck the Ampullacea (flask). The Coriolana and Bruttia have family-names (Coriolanus, Brutus); the Cucurbitina (gourd-pears) are so called from their bitter taste. The origin of the name is unknown in the case of the Barbarica and the Veneria which they call colored; the Regia, which are attached to a very short stalk; the Patricia; the Voconia, which are green and oblong. Virgil mentions also the Volema, taken from Cato, who names also the Sementiva and the Mustea.2"
It is pertinent to inquire, now, as to what types of pears the ancients had. Such an inquiry leads up to another and much more important question: Have new characters appeared in pears since Pliny wrote? If so, it may be possible that we shall be forced to assume that man's dominacy over this fruit has produced the new characters, in which case search might be made for the key to unlock more new characters. For the present/ however, only the first question can be considered, before going into which it is necessary to know what the most prominent characters of the pear are. Only those of the fruit need be named.
There are twenty outstanding characters which differentiate the varieties of pears now cultivated, not taking account of those introduced by the hybridization of P. communis with P. serotina which has given pomology the Kieffer-like varieties. These characters are: Smooth or russet skin; red, yellow, or green color; large or small size; early or late season; long or short stem; round, oblate, ovate, and pyriform shapes; granular, buttery, or breaking flesh; sweet or acid flavor. In the pears described by Pliny so many of these characters are mentioned or may be assumed to be present from inference, that the conclusion is forced that in the many new pure-bred pears of P. communis which have come into existence since Pliny's time, showing a great shuffling of characters in pear-breeding, it is doubtful whether new characters have come into being in 2000 years. This, in turn, forces the conclusion that if this fruit is to be greatly changed, the change must come about through hybridization with other species.
Another quotation from Pliny shows that the Romans valued pears as a medicine as well as a food, had curious notions as to their digestibility, and, as with most plants, ascribed other marvelous qualities to them. Thus, Pliny says:
"All kinds of pears, as an aliment, are indigestible, to persons in robust health, even; but to invalids they are forbidden as rigidly as wine. Boiled, however, they are remarkably agreeable and wholesome, those of the Crustumium in particular. All kinds of pears, too, boiled with honey, are wholesome to the stomach. Cataplasms of a resolvent nature are made with pears, and a decoction of them is used to disperse indurations. They are efficacious, also, in cases of poisoning by mushrooms and fungi, as much by reason of their heaviness, as by the neutralizing effects of their juice.
"The wild pear ripens but very slowly. Cut in slices and hung in the air to dry, it arrests looseness of the bowels, an effect which is equally produced by a decoction of it taken in drink; in which case the leaves are also boiled up together with the fruit. The ashes of pear-tree wood are even more efficacious as an antidote to the poison of fungi.
"A load of apples or pears, however small, is singularly fatiguing to beasts of burden; the best plan to counteract this, they say, is to give the animals some to eat, or at least to show them the fruit before starting."
There is in the books of these old farmer-writers a mass of sagacious teachings which can never be outlived will always underlay the best practice. Followed carefully, except in the matter of pests, the precepts of Cato and Varro would as certainly lead to success as the mandates of the modern experiment stations with all the up-to-date appliances for carrying out their commands. Sagacity fails, however, in one respect in these Roman husbandmen all are fettered by superstitions. In these old books on the arts of husbandry, woven in with the practical precepts, which stand well the test of science, superstitions abound beyond present belief. Thus, whenever the discourse turns to pears, from Diophanes, who lived in Asia Minor a century before Christ, down through the ages in Greece, Italy, Prance, Belgium to the eighteenth century in England, runs the superstition, with various modifications, that to grow the best pears you must bore a hole through the trunk at the ground and drive in a plug of oak or beech over which the earth must be drawn. If the wound does not heal, it must be washed for a fortnight with the lees of wine. As the superstition waned, the apologetic injunction usually follows, that, in any event the wine-lees will improve the flavor of the fruit. Another superstition, current for centuries, accepted by Cato and Varro, and handed on with abiding faith almost to modern times was, as stated by Barnaby Googe, a farmer and writer subject of Queen Elizabeth, "if you graffe your peare upon a Mulbery, you shall have red Peares." Stories of promiscuous grafting abound in the old books. Another is that if an apple be grafted on the pear, the fruit is a "pearmain."
After Pliny follows a dreary and impenetrable period of 1500 years, in which time but few new facts regarding the evolution of the pear come to light in what is now Italy. The pear is mentioned, it is true, by many Roman writers, but all copy Theophrastus, Cato, and Pliny. Dioscorides, a learned Greek physician and botanist, who may be said to have been the author of the first book of "applied science " in botany, was the great botanical and pomological authority for the first 1600 years of the present era, many editions of his book appeared and in several languages, and it is he who is most often quoted by writers on fruits even until the seventeenth century, but he adds nothing new on the pear, and does not even extend the list of known varieties. During these 1600 years a great number of voluminous commentaries on Dioscorides appeared, in several of which names of new pears are mentioned, but, with the exception of one writer, the descriptions are so terse that the new sorts cannot be connected with older or later periods. The exception is Matthiolus (1501-1577), but since the English herbalists, in their turn, largely copy Matthiolus, with valuable amplifications, it is better to give space further on to them.
Perhaps one more name should be mentioned among the Roman writers. Messer Pietro de Crescenzi, an Italian born at Bolonga in 1230, wrote a book on agriculture in which the chapters on fruits are especially well written. For reasons to be mentioned, this book had a remarkable influence on the horticulture of Europe for the next three or four centuries. With the discovery of printing, nearly two centuries after the book was written, Crescenzi was published in numerous editions and in several languages to the great enlightenment of pomologists on the cultivation of fruits, but with small additions to the knowledge of the fruits themselves. Whether because the book was really the most serviceable of its kind in the world for four centuries, or whether by virtue of the happy circumstance of being many times printed, it had absolute supremacy over other agricultural texts, is now too late to judge. There is good reason to suspect that Crescenzi's is the precedence of circumstance, for he stole page after page from Palladius, of the fourth century, who, to be sure, in his turn, copied Columella and the Greeks. Most of these borrowings, however, meet the requirement of being "bettered by the borrower" that separates adoption from plagarism.
One other landmark, though a somewhat inconspicuous one, in the history of the pear in Italy, is deserving brief mention. Toward the middle of the sixteenth century Agostino Gallo, an Italian, wrote The Twenty Days of Agriculture and the Charms of Country Life. With the fall of the Roman Empire in the fifth century, agriculture was reduced to the production of the necessities of life and pomology all but perished. It required a thousand years to recover from the domination of the barbarian conqueror of Rome. Hence, it is not surprising that Gallo names but twelve varieties of pears instead of the forty-one of Pliny. Gallo says that he does not name all of the summer pears, but leaves the inference that his list is complete for autumn and winter sorts. There probably was a greater number under cultivation at this time in Italy, but Gallo's list shows that the number was small. Gallo is regarded as the restorer of agriculture in Italy after the dark ages, and as one of the most enlightened men of his time, so that we may accept him as an accurate historian. Besides furnishing a list of the pears of his day in Italy, Gallo names two that are now under cultivation Bergamot and Bon Chretien.
THE PEAR IN FRANCE
Who introduced the pear in France matters little. The Greeks who founded Marseille 600 B. C. may have done so. The Romans, masters of ancient Gaul for centuries, undoubtedly planted pears at widely separated places and in earliest times of Roman occupation. Or, and quite possibly, the original natives of the land began the domestication of the pear for, as we have seen, two cultivated species grow wild in what is now France. Date and manner of introduction matter less than a recognizable landmark in the history of the pear as an orchard plant in France. There is such a landmark and a conspicuous one.
Charlemagne, the many-sided genius who ruled the Franks in the ninth century, exercised his powerful influence in behalf of agriculture during the time of his reign, and to him is due credit for establishing the first notable landmark in the history of the pear in France. We are well informed of Charlemagne's various activities while in power, for official annals were kept at the Frankish Court. Charlemagne's secretary has left a biography of his master, and many of the King's Capitularies, or lists of laws, are extant. In these records, agriculture is a matter of constant comment and the pear is often up for discussion. One quotation serves to show that this fruit was cultivated in considerable variety in Charlemagne's orchards.
In the Capitulaire de Villis, Chapter LXX, Charlemagne is reported to have commanded his orchardists to plant pears of distinct kinds for distinct purposes. That the command was of sufficient importance to be recorded in a capitulaire indicates that Charlemagne esteemed this fruit. The order runs: "Plant pear trees whose products, because of pleasant flavor, could be eaten raw, those which will furnish fruits for cooking, and, finally, those which mature late to serve for use in winter." There is little information in this brief command, but it tells us that a considerable number of varieties of pears were grown in France in the ninth century, and that they were of sufficient importance to hold the attention of a great and busy monarch.
Either the culture of the pear abruptly ceased with the death of Charlemagne or records ceased to be kept that would throw light on the agriculture of the next five centuries, for from the tenth to the fifteenth century is an unchartered waste in the history of the pear in France. Undoubtedly pears were cultivated during this time by the monks who had the time, the taste, and the land for carrying on agriculture. When the pear comes to light again in the happier period for pomology of the sixteenth century, the many names of monasteries in the list of varieties suggest that the monks not only busied themselves with the culture of the fruit but greatly increased the number of kinds of pears.
Three great minds now appeared to make France the leading country in the production of agricultural literature in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and all paid attention to pomology. The names of Charles Estienne, Olivier de Serres, and Le Lectier in agriculture mark the departure from traditions handed down from the old Greeks and Romans to the beginning of a new agriculture founded on first-hand study and observation. The printing-press, it is true, was now an invaluable ally, but these three men were of an original bent of mind and would have been distinguished in any period before printing.
Charles Estienne, the first and the least of these three early
geniuses of French agriculture, published several works on agriculture,
mostly compilations, but all containing original observations, in one
of which, his "Seminarium," printed in Paris in 1540, is a list of
sixteen pears with brief descriptions of each. Not one of Estienne's
pears is now important, but all appear in the histories of minor sorts
in the last chapter of this text.
De Serres, known in France as "The Father of Agriculture" published his Le Théâtre d'Agriculture in 1608, a book ever to be notable in agriculture as the first to break wholly away from the 1600 years of repetition of book after book in the languages of Europe which but copied the ancients. De Serres was a good farmer most of his farming operations have not been improved upon; he founded the first experimental farm of which there is record at his home near Pradel and so became the first of a long line of modern experimenters in agriculture. Lastly, De Serres was a charming writer and his book rapidly ran through many editions and was translated into several languages. To him must be given credit for first sounding the alluring call of "back to the land " which rings from nearly every page of his books. Here is his appeal to plant pears; and words could hardly make it simpler, more charming, and more compelling:
"There is no tree among all those planted which abounds so much in kinds of fruits as the pear tree, whose different sorts are innumerable and their different qualities wonderful. For from the month of May to that of December pears good to eat are found on the trees. In considering particularly the different shapes, sizes, colors, flavors, and odors of the pear, who will not adore the wisdom of the creator.. Pears are found round, long ' goderonnees '3 pointed, blunt, small, and large. Gold, silver, vermillion, and satin green are found among the pears. Sugar, honey, cinnamon, clove, flavor them. They smell of musk, amber, and chive. In short, so excellent are the fruits that an orchard would not be worth while in a place where pear trees do not thrive."
This laudation of the pear, in which it is made manifest that many pears of diverse shapes, colors, flavors, and perfumes existed in the year 1600, is all that space permits from De Serres, though much could be quoted as to the care of pear orchards, and a list of kinds could be given, of which, however, the descriptions count for but little. Le Lectier, to whom we now come, is a better authority on varieties.
Le Lectier, an attorney of the king at Orleans, was an amateur fruit collector, but a collector who reflected and printed his reflections. He seems to have been about the first of the many collectors who, with fruit-growing as an avocation, have zealously sought to improve and distribute varieties, and thereby have done as much or more for pomology than those who have made fruit-growing a vocation. Though Le Lectier collected all of the fruits of his time and country, the pear was mistress of his passion, a passion which gave him such pleasure that it excited others to become amateurs and emulate him. The result was that a country-wide taste for pears was stimulated and a veritable craze for this fruit was started everybody planted pears.
The famous collection of fruits was begun by Le Lectier in 1598. By 1628, the infatuation to plant had progressed until Le Lectier could send to his fellow amateurs a catalog of his possessions of fruits with the desire to exchange. His offer to exchange shows all of the collector's zeal. It reads as follows:
"I beg all those who have good fruits (not contained in the present Catalogue) when he obtains them to inform me of it, so that I can have grafts of them in exchange for those which they have not, but which they wish to get from me, and which I will furnish them.
"Signed, Le Lectier, Attorney of the King at Orleans. 20th of December, 1628."
From Le Lectier's list we learn that 300 years ago the French had at least 254 pears. In this catalog are many pears in the pomologies of today, but, unfortunately without descriptions or any attempt to determine duplicates in names or varieties, the list serves for little more than a monument for one of the first and one of the most zealous collectors of pears. Le Lectier, however, may be said to have introduced the golden age of pomology in France; for, during historical times there seems to have been no other period in which pomology exercised the minds and hands of well-to-do people as in the century that followed Le Lectier. Even the kings of France took pleasure in using the spade and the pruning-knife. La Quintinye, the best of the pomological writers of the day, complained that the country was overwhelmed with books on pomology. Thus, was ushered in the period which we may call our own in which the history of the pear may be read in books innumerable.
As steps in the progress of the pear, the number of varieties may be noted as given by French pomologists in the modern era of pear-growing. Merlet, 1667, describes 187 varieties; La Quintinye, 1690, 67; Duhamel, 1768, 119; the Chartreuse fathers, 1775, 102; Tollard, 1805, 120; Noisette, 1833, 238; while Leroy, 1867, from whom the figures just given were taken, says that in the half century preceding, the number of pears in France was quadrupled and that there are 900 varieties for which there are 3000 names. Leroy notes three events as the cause of the generous multiplication of pears in the period of which he writes:. The introduction of the many varieties grown by Van Mons and other Flemish pomologists beginning about 1805; a little later, the establishment of exchange relations with English nurseries; and still later, 1849, the importation of a great number of new varieties from America. To Americans, it is particularly significant to note that the great progress of the pear in France is due to amateur tendance and not commercial success.
THE PEAR IN BELGIUM
Providence ordained Belgium to produce the modern pear. The evolution of the pear proceeded slowly, indeed, until its culture became common on the clayey and chalky soils in the cool, moist climate of Belgium, where flavor, aroma, texture, size, and color reach perfection. The pear was improved more in one century in Belgium than in all the centuries that had past. The part Providence played in endowing the Belgians with an ideal soil and climate for the pear, is but one of two causes of the results in improving the pear in this country. The other is that the Belgians, ever notable horticulturists, give the pear assiduous care, cultivate only the most approved varieties, and in breeding, aim ever at high quality, so that Belgian pear-growers, as well as an ordained soil and climate, must be given credit for the modern pear.
The early history of the pear in Belgium follows step by step that of the pear in France. In the sixteenth century, botanists were numerous in the Low Countries, their zeal and activity showing forth in several of the best of the early herbals. These herbalists, however, gave scant attention to the pear. Dodoens, most noted Belgian botanist of the century, dismissed the matter of varieties with the statement that the names change from village to village, and that it is therefore useless to give them. From this we may assume that a considerable number of pears were cultivated in Belgium at the time Dodoens wrote, about the middle of the sixteenth century.
Pear-breeding began in Belgium about 1730, when Nicolas Hardenpont, 1705-1774, a priest in his native town of Mons, made a large sowing of pear seed with a view of obtaining new pears of superior quality. Time is fleeting in breeding tree fruits, and the Abbe Hardenpont waited nearly 30 years before introducing his selected seedlings, and then, beginning in 1758, he introduced one new variety after another until a dozen or more new pears were accredited to him. At least six of these are still grown in Europe, but only one, the Passe Colmar, is known in America, But before going further with the work of the Belgian breeders, it is necessary to take stock of what was on hand before their time.
La Quintinye, the most noted French pomologist of his time, in 1690 listed 67 pear varieties. The Belgians probably had all of these. What were they? Most of them were old sorts some were centuries old. All, so far as their histories show, originated by chance in garden, orchard, hedge row, and forest. No one seems yet to have planted seed with a view of obtaining new and better pears. Camerarius in 1694 had made known the fact of sex in plants. Soon after, experiments in hybridization began, but no one as yet had hybridized pears. Lastly, nearly all pears, before the Belgians began to improve them, were crisp or breaking in flesh, the crevers of the French, while the soft-fleshed, melting pears, the beurres of the French, were as yet hardly known. Now, mostly owing to the work of the Belgians, the buttery pears predominate.
Of the means by which Hardenpont obtained his superior pears, there is no precise knowledge. Whether his new sorts were lucky chances out of a large number of promiscuous seedlings, or whether he was a pioneer in hybridizing can never be known. Du Mortier, a distinguished Belgian botanist, gives the credit of hybridization to the Abbe, basing his opinion on the fact that the characters of most of Hardenpont's varieties are plainly a commingling of two well-known parents which could hardly be the case if they were happy chances were fate ever so kindly disposed.
Hardenpont soon had many imitators in Belgium. Indeed, the Belgians seem to have been quite carried off their feet by pear-breeding, and during the first half of the nineteenth century a fad like the "tulip craze "of Holland and the "mulberry craze "of America reigned in the country. Among the breeders are found the names of priests, physicians, scientists, apothecaries, attorneys, tradesmen, and gentlemen of leisure. The introduction of new varieties made notable in horticulture the towns of Mons, Tournaii, Enghien, Louvain, Malines, and Brussels. The awarding of medals for new pears produced the horticultural sensations of the times. Hundreds if not thousands of new varieties were introduced, of which many, it is true, have proved worthless, others of but secondary merit, while still others, as we shall find, are even now among the best pears under cultivation. But the great fact, be it remembered, is that these amateur pear-breeders wrought in a few years a complete transformation in a fruit that had been domesticated and had been fairly stable for over 2000 years.
A few names besides Hardenpont stand out prominently and must be mentioned. Of these, Van Mons is best known. Jean Baptiste Van Mons, 1765-1842, was a pharmacist, physicist, and physician, one of the savants of his time, who, late in the eighteenth century, under the potent spell cast by Hardenpont's work, began to breed pears. Space forbids an account of Van Mons' experiments. Suffice to say that he introduced more than two scores of pears having lasting merit, and that in the height of his career he had in his "Nursery of Fidelity "at Louvain, eighty thousand seedlings. Van Mons outlives in fame the Belgian pear-breeders of his time because he propounded a theory for the origination of new varieties of plants, and this in its turn is famed as the first complete system of plant improvement. Van Mons contributed but little of direct value to plant-breeding, but indirectly he gave a great impetus to breeding pears and to the culture of the pear, more especially in America, and we must therefore glance at his theory and trace more in detail its influence on American pear-growing.
Van Mons' theory, in brief, as expounded in various papers, is: A species does not vary in the place in which it is born; it reproduces only plants which resemble itself. The causes of variation are changes in soil, climate, or temperature. Whenever a species produces one or many varieties, these varieties continue to vary always. The source of all variation, which is transmissible by sowing, resides in the seeds. The older a variety, the less the seedlings vary, and the more they tend to return toward the primitive form, without being able ever to reach that state; the younger or newer the variety, the more the seedlings vary.
In putting his theory in practice Van Mons took the first seeds from wild plants or those little improved, from which he grew seedlings, and from these the seeds were taken from the first fruits to ripen for new sowings. This practice he repeated generation after generation. Thus, it is seen that Van Mons was an early apostle of selection. He is said to have distributed over 400 varieties, about 40 of which are still under cultivation. It is to be feared, however, that Van Mons' theory was preconceived without experiment or even observation for a foundation. He devoted a life of most admirable zeal to verifying and developing this vision of his early years with some material reward it is true, but with a better foundation his prodigious labors would have yielded greater direct results in improving the pear. Still, the indirect results, his influence on the pomologists of two continents, even though they did not subscribe to his theories, was more valuable than the work of one mind and one pair of hands could possibly have been.
There must always be pioneers, men who stray from beaten paths, but pioneers seldom exert wide and deep influence at once leave the worn path, so to speak, and at once construct a macadamized road yet this was what Van Mons did. Pomologists agree that until his time no man had exerted so profound an influence on pomology. His love of discovery and love of labor permeated fruit-growing in Europe and America. Fortunately, it was the age of the amateur fruit-grower. Pleasure and progress, driven by curiosity, counted for more than commercial success, so that Van Mons' new varieties at once gave him wide fame. He was made known to American pear-growers by Robert Manning who distributed his new varieties in this country and described them in the horticultural literature of the day and in his Book of Fruits published in 1838. Later, Andrew Jackson Downing, the brilliant genius of American horticulture, published Van Mons' theories and described many of his new pears in his Fruits and Fruit Trees, which came from the press in 1845. Thus, Van Mons became the recognized authority in America on all matters relating to the pear. Indeed, it is hardly too much to say that we owe him obligations as the founder of pear-culture in this country.
But the work of the Belgians does not end with Van Mons. There were other breeders of pears, who, though not to be classed with Van Mons as a Titan, lacking the quality of mind to set forth a new philosophy, helped to enliven the impulse given by their leader to the improvement of the pear by originating new varieties. Chief of these are Major Esperen, of Malines, who introduced twenty of the pears mentioned in the Pears of New York; Bivort, who has twenty-three to his credit; Gregoire, forty-two; Simon Bouvier, eleven; De Jonghe, six; and De Nelis, five. While, if the lists of varieties in the last two chapters of this text be scanned for Belgians who introduced but one, two, or three new pears, the list runs up into the hundreds. Labor finds its summit in the work of these Belgian pear-breeders, who obtained petty rewards by sifting millions of seedlings through the coarse meshes of the sieve of selection. We can pardon these enthusiastic breeders with grace for over-zealousness in naming varieties obtained with such prodigious efforts.
THE PEAR IN CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE
The pear can be improved only where the pear-tree flourishes, and then only when assisted by the foresight and desire of men. This happy combination seems not to exist in Europe outside of Italy, France, Belgium, and England. The pear flourishes along the Danube, in parts of Austria and southern Germany, and along the upper Rhine, but the people of these regions seem to have been followers rather than leaders in developing this fruit, having produced almost no meritorious varieties. America is indebted to the vast region of central and western Europe for but one major variety, the Forelle, and this sort is of little importance.
Pomology, the world over, however, is indebted to Germany for much valuable pomological literature. Cordus, Mayer, Christ, Diel, Dittrich, Truchsess, Hinkert, Dochnahl, Oberdieck, Engelbrecht, Lauche, and Gaucher, all Germans, and Kraft, an Austrian, have been industrious compilers, and have given pomology some of its best texts on systematic pomology.
Cordus, earliest German pomological writer, wrote an illuminating chapter in the history of the pear, which must be reproduced. Valerius Cordus, 1515-1544, a botanical genius, made botanical expeditions to nearly every part of Germany, in the course of which he made special study of the apple and the pear. He described fifty pears and thirty-one apples. These descriptions are noteworthy as the earliest for these fruits in Germany. Cordus is called by one great botanist, "the inventor of the art of describing plants; "by another, he is said to have been "first to teach men to cease from dependence on the poor descriptions of the ancients and to describe plants anew from nature; "a third botanical authority says of him, "the first of all men to excel in plant description;"while a fourth writes of the four books of his Historia Plantarum "truly extraordinary because of the accuracy with which the plants are described."Thus, botanists accord him special distinction, but pomologists seem not to know this resplendent systemist of the sixteenth century, who, as we shall see, is especially deserving of pomological recognition.
Cordus is entitled to honor in the history of pomology as first to print descriptions of fruits for the purpose of identifying varieties. No doubt as soon as the earth ceased to furnish spontaneously the primitive luxury of ready-to-eat food in the shape of fruit, making culture necessary, varieties were acquired and became commodities as they are today. Varieties were certain to originate under cultivation, and their value was certain to be recognized by our first ancestors, to whom the convenience, necessity, and expediency of having a diversity of kinds of any fruit as well as of a means of keeping them true to kind, must have been apparent at the beginning of fruit culture. That such was the case, the most ancient sacred and profane writings assure us. Varieties of the fig, olive, grape, and other fruits are mentioned by all early writers on plants. That varieties of fruits would not come true to seed was early known, and propagation by cuttings, layers, and grafting was invented to preserve choice sorts. Many of the early writers name varieties, tell from whence they came, and some set forth a remarkable character or two, but none give detailed descriptions. Cordus was first to engage in this sort of enterprise.
This chapter from Cordus is important, too, because it makes plain that the pears grown in Germany four hundred years ago possessed all the characters to be found in modern pears. Culture has increased size, modified shapes, augmented flavors, brightened colors, and softened textures, but no characters that can be considered new or distinct, unit characters of the plant-breeder, have been introduced in the four centuries that have gone by. The characters possessed by these German pears are the same, so far as can be made out, as those of the varieties grown by the Greeks and Latins nearly 2000 years earlier. From this, the inference must be drawn that the characters of the pear have not originated under cultivation but exist in wild types. New and distinct characters can come only by hybridization with another species. Pears within a species are changed only by a recombination of the characters possessed by the species.
The descriptions of varieties from Cordus4 that follow are commended to pomologists as models of brevity and accuracy. These word-pictures reproduce the pears as vividly as an artist could paint them. One sees at once that Cordus was no compiler. Such descriptions as Cordus writes can be made only in the orchard with the pear in hand.
"The domesticated pear-tree is like the wild tree in trunk, bark, timber, leaves and blossoms, but has straighter and more shapely boughs and leaves a little larger. Of the fruits themselves, which we call pears, there are innumerable kinds, of which we will describe some that are found in Germany, adding also their German names, which vary, however, in the different provinces.
"Probstbirn, that is, Provost pear, so-called from their
broad base, near the stalk end in a blunt point, have a length of three
inches, breadth a little less. Their color is pale green, speckled with
green spots or dots; they are astringent to the taste, and by the
abundance of their juice extinguish thirst. They ripen at the beginning
of autumn, and quickly decay because of the abundance of watery and
rather cold juice. They are found in abundance at Eisleben near the
Harz forest in Saxony.
"Speckbirn, that is, Lard pear, swell in the middle with a thick belly, from which they suddenly taper off into a point; they have a length of more than three inches, a width somewhat less than three inches; they are of pale color, and like the Provost, speckled with green dots, rather mild and sweet to the taste, dissolving in the mouth like lard, whence they have received their name, and with the abundance of their juice they quench thirst; when they are peeled they give a sweet odor. They ripen at the beginning of autumn and very easily decay.
"Kaulbirn, that is, Ball pear, have almost the roundness of a globe, except that near the stalk they rise to a blunt and inconspicuous circle. Their length is scarcely two inches; they rarely exceed this, but in width slightly exceed their length. In color they are pale green, in taste and smell they rival the Lard with which also they come to ripeness; these too easily decay. They are found at Eisleben.
"Hanffbirn, that is, Hemp pear, are like the Ball but a little larger; they have a green color, marked with spots or dots; in taste they correspond to the Ball, but do not dissolve so readily in the mouth; they ripen at the same time, and are easily affected by decay. These too are found at Eisleben.
"Glockenbirn, that is, Bell pear, from a broad base narrow down to a sort of narrow neck and then end in a blunt head; they have quite the shape of a bell, whence they have received their name. They are wholly of a yellow color spotted with dots, in lengtji a little less than three inches, but in width they do not reach two inches. They have no unpleasant odor, especially when peeled; in taste they correspond to the Hemp, and reach maturity at the same time, and easily decay. They grow in abundance at Eisleben.
11 Konigsbirn, King's pear, or Regalbirn, Rule pear, that is, Royal pear, are large and big-bellied; they have a length sometimes of four inches, a width a little less; they are of bluish-gray color, but in that part where they have had the sun they become slightly red. They are astringent to the taste and with a copious juice, and that sweet and something like wine, they allay thirst. They ripen when the sun has entered Libra, and do not so easily decay.
"Klunssbirn, that is, Lump pear, are of two varieties; both kinds, however, correspond proportionately in shape to the Royal, but are inferior to them in size. There is a difference in color, for one kind has a bluish-gray color, the other reddish-gray. They have a juice similar in flavor to the Royal but more acid. They ripen with the Royal. In Saxony there is great abundance of them, especially at Hildesheim.
"Bonnebirn, that is, Bonn pear, so-called from the city of Bonn on the Rhine, from which they have been transplanted into other districts. They have an almost spherical shape, except that near the stalk they end in a blunt point. They are three inches in length, a little less in width. Their color is on one side green or pale, on the other, where they have been touched by the sun, reddish. They are moderately acid to the taste, and abound with copious juice, rather watery, very refreshing in effect. They ripen when the sun is hastening toward Scorpio. They are abundant at Marburg in Hesse.
"Schmalzbirn, that is, Butter pear, so called because they melt in the mouth like fat or some liquid mixture; their fruit is generally swollen at the lower end and gradually tapers to a narrow neck toward the stem. Like gourds they are three inches in length or often more, but in breadth two and a half inches. They have a pale yellow color, a pleasing fragrance, but are very acid in taste, with the admixture of a peculiar, winey flavor; when insufficiently ripe and not thoroughly chewed or too greedily devoured they sometimes stick in the throat and choke the breathing; on the other hand, when ripe and well masticated they melt in the mouth like fat. They ripen before the sun passes into Libra. They are found in Hesse, especially in Frankenberg, where there is great abundance of them.
"Junckfrauenbirn gross, that is, Maiden pera, large, are like the Lump pear in color and shape, but in size somewhat smaller. In taste they are powerfully astringent, so that they irritate the throat and contract the lips into a pucker like a maiden's kiss. They have a watery juice mixed as it were with sour wine. They ripen at the end of summer. At Brunswick in Saxony they are very abundant.
"Junckfrauenbirn klein, that is, Maiden pear, small, from a swelling belly they end in a narrow neck; they have a length a little less than three inches, but in breadth somewhat exceed an inch and a half; they are of beautiful color, as if one should mix dark blue-green with reddish-purple; they are besides speckled with dots, acid in taste, and in like manner are easily dissolved in the mouth. They ripen at the beginning of autumn. They are much cultivated at Eisleben.
"Hamelsswenstebirn, that is, Ram's paunch pear, have received their name from the fact that in their swelling shape they resemble the bellies of wethers; they swell as it were with a thick paunch; reach three inches in length and often even more, but less in width. In color they are bluish-gray, but slightly reddish on that side which they have turned to the sun. They have a very acid flavor, with a certain pleasantness and a winey juice. They ripen at the end of summer. They are found in Hesse and neighboring districts, and there are preferred to other pears.
"Loewenbirn, that is, Lion pear, so called from their excellence; these are called Hessiatica in Thuringen and neighboring districts; their fruit is remarkable, holding the supremacy among all autumn fruits for duration and excellence of taste and juice. They are swollen in the lower part and generally unequal; they have a length of three inches and often greater; in width they not rarely exceed two inches. They are of greenish gray color, slightly reddened. They have an astringent taste of marked pleasantness. They abound in copious juice, winey, sweet-smelling, and very refreshing, so that they speedily quench thirst; indeed the pears themselves by their strong aromatic odor wonderfully revive the sick. They ripen when the sun has entered Libra; finally when stored away they last for a long time. They abound in Hesse, especially at Marburg and likewise at Frankenberg, a town near Marburg. They are called Barber's pear, from a certain barber who first introduced them there.
"Hangelbirn, that is, Hanging pear, are equal to the Butter in shape, color, and size; they hang from a long stalk, whence they have received their name; in flavor they differ from the Butter, for their juice is not so winey nor so acid; they have a simpler flavor, not composed of so many qualities. However, they ripen at the same time. These too are cultivated in Hesse.
"Margarethenbirn, that is, Margaret's pear, are so called because they become ripe about St. Margaret's Day, when the sun is entering into Leo. They end in an oblong neck; in length they reach three inches, in width hardly two inches. They have a reddish-blue color. Their pulp is tender and juicy, of very sweet taste, easily melting in the mouth; they have a very pleasant smell. They abound at Brunswick in Saxony.
"Winterbirn, that is, Winter pear, from a round shape become slightly conical; they are less than three inches in length, little more than two inches in breadth. They have a green color, a very hard substance, so that they scarcely give way to the teeth. In taste they are very acid and refreshing, quenching the thirst with a watery, sour juice. They ripen late in autumn after all other fruits, after they have been touched with frosts and cold. They are found at Frankenberg in Hesse.
"Knochenbirn, that is, Bone pear, have received their name from their hardness; from a swelling belly they end gradually in a short and narrow neck. They rarely exceed two inches in length and an inch and a half in breadth. They have a light reddish color; they are of such hard substance that they cannot be chewed raw but only when cooked. They have a very acid taste. They ripen at the beginning of autumn. They are cultivated at Frankenberg in Hesse.
"Augustbirn, that is, August pear, would be almost round except that they end in a short point. Their length is a little more than two inches, their width a little less. They have a yellow color, at times turning to pale red. In taste they are acid, with a peculiar sweetness of juice. They ripen early in August, whence they have received their name. They are short-lived and do not last long. They abound everywhere in Hesse.
"Honigbirn gross, that is, Honey pear, large, end in an oblong cone; fhey are two inches and a half in length, but in breadth hardly reach two inches. They have a bluish-gray color verging on yellow, and a surface not so smooth; in taste they are acid and abound in sweet juice; they ripen at the beginning of autumn, lasting for a while. They are found at Wittenberg in upper Saxony.
"Honigbirn klein, that is, Honey pear, small, are of conical shape, in length do not exceed an inch and a half, in width are a little less; they have a light reddish color, a flavor very sweet and pleasant, whence they have received their name. They melt readily in the mouth of those who taste them. They ripen soon after the August pear. They abound in Hesse.
"Muscatellerbirn, that is, Musk pear, are very small and conical, in length a little more than an inch, in width a little less. Their color is green tinged with red, their taste most sweet and aromatic, as if it were flavored with a little musk, whence their name. They easily melt in the mouth; they have also a pleasing odor. They ripen in June. They are carefully cultivated in Meissen.
"Schaffbirn, that is, Sheep pear, are like the larger Honey in size, shape and color, but a little more oblong and narrow. They have a very sweet flavor, moderately astringent, and easily dissolve in the mouth on account of the tender softness of their pulp and juice. They ripen when the sun is hastening toward Libra. They are found in Frankenberg in Hesse.
"Waxbirn, that is, Wax pear, are big-bellied at the lower end, at the upper end taper off into a cone; in length sometimes exceed three inches by a little, but in width rarely exceed two inches. They have a yellow or wax-like color, whence their name has been given them, but on that side where they have received the sun they invite those who look upon them to eat them by their pleasing, speckled redness. They have a sweet flavor, slightly astringent; their pulp is soft and easily melts in the mouth. They ripen when the sun has entered Virgo; they are short-lived and do not last long. They are found at Marburg in Hesse.
"Rostbirn, that is, Rust pear, are big-bellied in the middle and narrow down at both ends; in length three inches and a half, in width two inches and a half. They have a yellow color, speckled with bluish-gray spots; they have a very mild, sweet flavor, and easily melt in the mouth; because of their extreme softness they last a very short time. They ripen at the beginning of autumn. They are cultivated at Eisleben and neighboring towns.
"Aschbirn, that is, Ash pear, have their name because they are soft like ashes and easily dissolve in the mouth. They resemble the Rust pear in shape, color, quality of pulp, and flavor; but are a little smaller, and more conical at one end toward the stalk, though sometimes they become big-bellied in the middle like the Rust. They ripen with the Rust. They are cultivated at Eisleben.
"Drinkebirn, that is, Drink pear, are so called because like a drink they drive away anybody's thirst. They are swollen in the middle and end in a blunt point; in length a little over two inches, in width scarcely two inches. Their color is wholly yellow, but they redden on that side which is exposed to the sun; they have a sweet flavor, tender pulp, abounding with copious and drinkable juice. They ripen with the Rust and quickly decay just as they do. They are cultivated in the country near Eisleben.
"Eyerbirn, that is, Egg pear, have received their name from their shape, which becomes conical at both ends like a short egg; otherwise they do not differ much from the Drink pear in proportion and shape. They are, however, a little smaller, have a yellow color speckled with dots. In flavor they rival the Rust and like them are moderately astringent; they have a very sweet fragrance, ripen with the Drink pear, and quickly decay. They too are found at Eisleben and neighboring towns.
"Pfaltzgrduischbirn (Palatinate grayish-pear), that is, Palatina, which are called Mass pear in Hesse, are the most excellent of the short-lived ones, and in like manner generally end in a cone; in length they reach two inches and a half, in width rarely exceed two inches. Their color is mid-way between saffron and reddish purple. They have a tender, juicy pulp, an exceptionally sweet flavor, aromatic as it were. They have a most pleasing fragrance both when they are whole and when they are cut, surpassed in excellence by no other variety of pear. They ripen at the end of August, when the sun has entered Virgo. They are found in the Rhine Valley, in France, Hesse, and many other regions.
"Spindelbirn or Rautenbirn (Rhombus pear), that is, Spindle pear, are like the Rust in shape, color, and size, but a little narrower; in substance and flavor they differ from them, since they consist of harder pulp and so last longer; they have a flavor astringent and at the same time sweet. They ripen with the Rust, and are cultivated in the country about Eisleben.
"Zuckerbirn, that is, Sugar pear, are a little more than two inches in length, rarely as much in width; of greenish color; they have a tender pulp, melting easily in the mouth like sugar, sweet and of pleasant flavor. They ripen with the Egg pear and do not last long. They are cultivated in the country about Eisleben.
"Packelemischbirn, that is, Paclemiana, are like the Sugar in size and shape; their color is green and bluish-gray; their surface is rather rough, their pulp hard, juicy, and acid. They ripen with the Sugar, and if they receive no injury they do not easily decay, but may last for some time, as most others do which have hard pulp and acid taste. They are cultivated in the country about Eisleben.
"Kirchmessbirn, that is, Church Mass pear, are round and big-bellied, and end toward the stalk in a long, narrow, and much attenuated point. In length they are three and a half inches, in breadth over two inches, though even smaller ones are produced. They are yellow in color, tender and juicy in pulp, and like the Palatina and Drink in flavor. They ripen in autumn and last almost until the sun enters Sagittarius. They are found at Wittemberg.
"Knaustbirn or Gelbe Honigbirn (Yellow Honey pear), that is, Bread Crust pear, have a broad base and are swollen and almost round, toward the stalk ending in a short, blunt, and rounded point; both in length and in breadth they sometimes exceed two inches and a half, but rarely; they are of yellow color, speckled generally around the bottom; they resemble the larger Honey in color and acidity; their pulp' is rather hard but juicy, stony around the seed-receptacles. They have a flavor between that of the larger Honey and the Lion and that very pleasing. They ripen in autumn and sometimes last almost to the winter solstice. They are cultivated at Wittemberg and neighboring places.
"Klosterbirn, that is, Cloister pear, swell out with uneven belly and toward the stalk become conical; they reach three inches in length and not much less in breadth. They have a yellow color, speckled with green dots; their pulp is rather hard and somewhat stony; their taste mildly astringent and of slightly glutinous sweetness. They ripen with the Bread Crust pear and last as long. They are found in the country about Wittemberg.
"Glassbirn, that is, Glass pear, are round and slightly conical; in length they generally reach two and one-third inches, in breadth a little over two inches; their color is light green verging on yellow; their flesh is tender, juicy, astringent to the taste, sweet and winey; they ripen with the Rust a little before the beginning of autumn. There is an abundant crop of them at Eisleben and neighboring towns. They last until the sun enters Sagittarius.
"Kirchbirn, that is, Church pear, have an oblong oval shape but end in a cone rather than an oval. They reach two inches in length, in width somewhat exceed an inch and a half. Their color is on one side yellowish-green, on the other, where they have received the sun, reddish. Their pulp is hard, rather juicy, slightly sour to the taste, and very astringent. They ripen at the end of summer and last for a long time. Of these too there is an abundant crop at Eisleben.
"Quittenbirn, that is, Quince pear, like the Cloister pear, swell out with uneven belly, and toward the stalk end in a short point, like the conical Cotonea, but protuberant ones are also found, whence the name was given them. In breadth as well as length they exceed two inches and a third. They have a green color, a hard, juicy pulp, rather winey and astringent to the taste. They ripen at the beginning of autumn and last till the winter. They are found at Eisleben.
"Parissbirn, that is, Parisiana, are round at the lower end and taper to a point at the upper end. Their length is two and a half inches, their width not over two inches, or rarely more. Their color on one side is yellow, but on the other, where they have felt the sun, purple. Their pulp is juicy, their taste pleasantly astringent. They ripen with those before mentioned, lasting into the winter. There is an abundant crop of them in the country about Eisleben.
"Weybersterbenbirn, that is, Women's Death pear, would be round, except that toward the stalk they end in a short, blunt point. They generally exceed two inches in breadth as well as in length. They have a yellow color, saffron towards the base, speckled with purple dots. Their pulp is hard and rather stony, with juice slightly sour to the taste and very astringent, like the Church pear, with which also they ripen. They last into the winter. They are cultivated in the country about Eisleben.
"Kölbirn, that is, Cabbage pear, are large, almost round, tapering to a cone, three inches in length and one-half to one-third of an inch less in breadth. They have a pale green color, one side slightly reddish and speckled with dots. Their pulp is rather hard, juicy, somewhat sour and very astringent to the taste, like the Women's Death pear, with which also they ripen, and they last as long. They are cultivated at Eisleben.
"Holpenerbirn, that is, Hollow pear, are large, big-bellied, uneven, and conical; in length they sometimes exceed two and a half inches, in width almost equal their length. Their color is green; they have a juicy pulp, winey in taste, slightly acid, and more astringent than the Brassicana. They ripen at the beginning of autumn, and last long into the winter. There is a large crop of them in the country about Eisleben.
"Safftbirn, that is, Sap pear, are like the Hollow pear but a little smaller and less uneven, of a greenish-yellow color; their pulp is solid and when cut sheds a copious juice, when chewed passes almost wholly into uice and very little dry substance remains;, when the juice is swallowed, it is cool to the taste, somewhat acid, winey, and astringent. They ripen at the beginning of autumn and last for a long time. They are found at Wittemberg.
"Eierlingebirn, that is, Little-egg pear, have received their name from their oval shape; in shape and size they are midway between the Drink and the Egg pear; their color is yellow, speckled with reddish dots on a dark background. They have hard, juicy pulp, acid to the taste, winey, and astringent. They ripen at the beginning of autumn and last for a long time. They grow at Wittemberg.
"Kruselbirn, that is, Curling pear, in shape resemble a top which boys throw upon the ground wound up with a string to make it spin. In length they reach three inches, in width two and a half. Their color is pale green, speckled with many green dots or spots; their pulp is solid, juicy, very astringent to the taste, somewhat acid and pleasant. They last until the sun has passed Aquarius or Pisces. They abound in Meissen.
"Bratbirn gross, also called Fregelbirn, that is, pears for roasting, are about the largest of all, for sometimes they weigh a mina (about 15.2 ounces) and a half; they are of globular shape, sometimes conical, and frequently irregular; of a color midway between pale green and red, redder on one side. They have a pulp with pleasant juice, astringent, partaking somewhat of acid. They grow in Meissen, especially at Leisnig and Koldit.
"Grauchenbirn, that is, Gray pear, have received their name from their color, since they are ash-colored and at the same time greenish. They are small and of globular shape, measuring an inch in breadth as well as in length; in appearance are in no way different from some of the wild pears; in taste are soft, mild, sweet, with a pleasantly astringent quality; they last till after the winter solstice. They grow in the country about Meissen and Leipzig.
"Gelbrotebirn, that is, Yellow-red pear, have an oblong pyramidal shape, generally reaching a length of three inches, and a width of two inches. Their color on one side is yellow, on the other saffron and purple; their pulp is soft, astringent to the taste, pleasant, slightly acid, and watery. They ripen at the beginning of autumn, and last till the winter solstice. They grow at Hildesheim in Saxony.
"Grünlingebirn, that is, Green pear, are quite large, since sometimes they exceed three inches in length, two inches in breadth; they have an oblong pyramidal shape, a green color, a juicy pulp, sharply astringent to the taste. They ripen at the beginning of autumn, and last till after the solstice. There is a large crop of them at Hildesheim.
"Wasserbirn, that is, Water pear, rival Green pear in size, they have a shape big-bellied in the middle and taper to a point at both ends, sharper and more oblong toward the stem, but shorter and blunter near the base. Their color on one side is pale, speckled with dots, on the other reddish, pale on the edges. They have juicy pulp, watery and rather pleasant to the taste. They become ripe with the Green pear but do not last so long. They grow at Hildesheim.
"Kegelbirn, that is, Cone pear, have the shape of a pine cone, and from a rather broad base end in a point; their length is three inches, their width two; their color on one side green, on the other reddish. Their pulp is juicy, harsh to the taste. Their maturity falls at the beginning of autumn, from which time they may last till the winter solstice. They are produced at Hildesheim"
THE PEAR IN ENGLAND
Much as America owes England for fruit, farm, and garden crops, she is but little indebted to her for pears. Varieties of pears have come to the New World almost wholly from Belgium and France, not more than three or four major sorts of English origin being among those now commonly grown in America. But even though the line of march in the development of varieties scarcely touches England, all English speaking pear-growers have received instruction as to culture and have had knowledge of continental varieties transmitted to them through English publications. In the history of fruits in England, therefore, many gleams of light illuminate the path along which the pear has been brought from the ancients to America.
No doubt the pear was brought to Britain before the Roman conquest. Tacitus, in the first century, says the climate of Britain is suitable to the culture of all fruits and vegetables except the and the olive. Pliny writes that the Britains had the cherry before the middle of the first century, and almost certainly the pear and other fruits were introduced with it. There was, also, a Saxon name for the pear, pirige, so philologists say, before the fall of the Roman Empire. The years 43 and 407 mark the beginning and the end of the Romans and of civilization in Britain for many centuries, and whether or not the pear was permanently established during this time there are now no means of ascertaining. The climate and soil of England are congenial to the pear, however, and no doubt wild or little cultivated trees persisted until the Norman conquest, the spread of Christianity, and the building of many monasteries with orchards and gardens as essential adjuncts.
Even in England under the Normans who came in 1066, not much progress was made in fruit-growing. Tillers of the soil were hard pressed for the necessities of life and could only with difficulty harvest a bare sustenance from the land. Besides, monks and nobles preyed on the starving peasants so that at no time could the farmer be sure of reaping what he planted. Only these monks and nobles enjoyed luxuries. But even men who boasted of titles and owned large holdings of land had little room within fortified walls and on moated islands, which constant wars made necessary, for fruits; nor had they time from projects of war and the pleasures of the chase to devote to the art of agriculture. Fortunately, priors and abbots were well disposed toward the good things of life, therefore made much of fruits and vegetables, and with abundance of leisure the monks became the only proficients of the times in gardening and orcharding. Moreover, they were in constant correspondence with the continent and could ascertain what culture was needed to grow perfect fruits. Pear culture had its beginnings in England, then, in the monasteries established under the Normans.
Pressed for an exact date as to when the pear began to be cultivated in England, the historians would be troubled to name one. There is a plan of the monastery of Canterbury made in 1165 which shows an orchard and a vineyard. History, moreover, relates that armed men collected in an orchard to take hand in the murder of Thomas Becket in 1170. Men in those days set small store by written accounts, and history must be helped out by imagination, and we may imagine that there were pears in this orchard.
Pears by this time had become common, for there are records of varieties to a considerable number and in large quantities which could have been had only from rather extensive orchards. Mrs. Evelyn Cecil (A Hist. of Gard. in Eng. 35-37. 1910) publishes documents from the Record office of England which contain items of pears bought for Henry III and Edward I at different times in the thirteenth century, the first date being "probably for the year 1223."The pears appear to be of French origin, and the varieties are Caloels, Pesse Pesceles, Ruler, and Martyns. In a later memorandum, 1292-93, still other varieties are named as the Regul, Calwel, Dieyer, Sorell, Chryfall, and Gold Knoper. The pears were sold by the hundred and were used for desert, though "pears in syrup "and pears for cider are mentioned. The perusal of these documents, printed in considerable detail in Mrs. Cecil's admirable book, enables us to fix the beginning of commercial pear culture in England at as early a date as 1200.
Passing by several other references from records and financial accounts of monasteries in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries as too vague to be of importance, although they make certain that the pear was rather widely cultivated in England in these two centuries, we come at last to a noteworthy landmark in pear history in England, the introduction of the Warden pear, which maybe put at the conveniently vague date of the end of the fourteenth century, 1388 being the first year they are mentioned.
"Warden" was a name used for centuries to designate a group of pear varieties having crisp, firm flesh and which were used for culinary purposes. Their history runs back to the Cistercian Abbey of Warden in Bedfordshire and to a date earlier than 1388. Warden pears were favorites for centuries for pies and pastries which every early cook-book contained recipes for making. In the early English literature they are considered a distinct fruit as "apples, pears, quinces, wardens, "and even the herbals and early fruit books count them as distinct. Shakespeare's clown in A Winter's Tale says: "I must have saffron to colour the Warden pies." The name came to signify any long-keeping, cooking pear and even yet is so used in parts of England.
The most noteworthy landmark is found in the discussions of pears by the English herbalists of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Turner, the first of these herbalists, in his Herbal of 1551, mentions the pear but without important details, though we may infer from what he says that the pear is now a common fruit. Thomas Tusser, in his Five Hundred Points of Good Husbandrie, published in 1573, gives a list of fruits to be set or removed in January in which he includes "pears of all sorts" and then as a separate item includes "Warden, white and red," showing that "Wardens "were held as distinct from the pear and that they were prominent in the orchards of the time. The century ends with John Gerarde's Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes, 1597, in which we are brought to the realization that the pear is no longer a probationary fruit or even to be considered a novelty or luxury but a standard food product. Gerarde might well be quoted in full, but since Parkinson, a few years later, contains a "fuller discourse,"as one of Gerarde's editors says, we take but a few sentences from Gerarde.
Varieties by this time had become numerous. Gerarde, while he names but eight, says he knew someone who grew "at the point of three score sundrie sorts of Peares, and those exceeding good; not doubting but that if his minde had beene to seeke after multitudes he might have gotten together the like number of those worse kindes * * * to describe each pear apart, were to send an owle to Athens, or to number those things without number. "Eight sorts are considered worth figuring, those accorded the honor being: "the Jenneting, Saint James, Royall, Beugomot, Quince, Bishop, Katherine, and the Winter Peare."Of these the Katherine is given further prominence by being listed as "known to all."If one is to judge from number of varieties, the pear at this time is a more general favorite than the apple, a considerably greater number of sorts being indicated.
Parkinson's account in his Paradisus of 1629, indeed does prove to be a a fuller discourse "for he names and describes 65 sorts; but these are not all for he says: "The variety of peares is as much or more then of apples, and I thinke it is as hard in this, as before in apples, for any to be so exquisite, as that hee could number up all the sorts that are to be had: for wee have in our country so manie, as I shall give you the names of by and by, and are hitherto come to our knowledge: but I verily beleeve that there be many, both in our country, and in others, that we have not yet knowne or heard of; for every yeare almost wee attaine to the knowledge of some, we knew not of before. Take therefore, according to the manner before held, the description of one, with the severall names of the rest, untill a more exact discourse be had of them, every one apart."Some of the names in Parkinson's list are group names covering several varieties. Thus, he says, "the Winter Bon Chretien is of many sorts; "and again, "the Winter Bergomot is of two or three sorts;"and, "the Winter peare is of many sorts."
Parkinson's descriptions are brief but written with rare clearness, and the old herbalist seems to have possessed a nicety of observation that commends him to all who have eyes for the distinguishing characters of fruits. With Parkinson our history of the pear in England must come to a close, since later accounts are available to all, and therefore as an important inventory, and because every word is pertinent, his account of varieties is republished.
"The Summer bon Chretien is somewhat a long peare, with a greene and yellow russetish coate, and will have sometimes red sides; it is ripe at Michaelmas: Some use to dry them as they doe Prunes, and keepe them all the yeare after. I have not seene or heard any more Summer kindes hereof then this one, and needeth no wall to nourse it as the other.
"The Winter bon Chretien is of many sorts, some greater, others lesser, and all good; but the greatest and best is that kinde that groweth at Syon: All the kinds of this Winter fruit must be planted against a wall, or else they will both seldome beare, and bring fewer also to ripenesse, comparable to the wall fruit: The kindes also are according to their lasting; for some will endure good much longer than others.
"The Summer Bergomot is an excellent well rellished peare, flattish, et short, not long like others, of a meane bignesse, and of a darke yellowish greene colour on the outside.
"The Winter Bergomot is of two or three sorts, being all of them small fruit, somewhat greener on the outside then the Summer kindes; all of them very delicate and good in their due time: For some will not be fit to bee eaten when others are well-nigh spent, every of them outlasting another by a moneth or more.
"The Diego peare is but a small peare, but an excellent well rellished fruit, tasting as if Muske had been put among it; many of them growe together, as it were in clusters.
"The Duetete or double headed peare, so called of the forme, is a very good peare, not very great, of a russettish browne colour on the outside.
"The Primating peare is a good moist peare, and early ripe.
"The Geneting peare is a very good early ripe peare.
"The greene Chesill is a delicate mellow peare, even melting as it were in the mouth of the eater, although greenish on the outside.
"The Catherine peare is knowne to all I thinke to be a yellow red sided peare, of a full waterish sweete taste, and ripe with the foremost.
"The King Catherine is greater than the other, and of the same goodnesse, or rather better.
"The Russet Catherine is a very good middle sized peare.
"The Windsor peare is an excellent good peare, well knowne to most persons, and of a reasonable greatnesse: it will beare fruit some times twice in a yeare (and as it is said) three times in some places.
"The Norwich peare is of two sorts, Summer and Winter, both of them good fruit, each in their season.
"The Worster peare is blackish, a farre better peare to bake (when as it will be like a Warden, and as good) than to eate rawe; yet so it is not to be misliked.
"The Muske peare is like unto a Catherine peare for bignesse, colour, and forme; but farre more excellent in taste, as the very name importeth.
"The Rosewater peare is a goodly faire peare, and of a delicate taste.
"The Sugar peare is an early peare, very sweete, but waterish.
"The Summer Popperin and The Winter Popperin [are] both very good dry firme peares, somewhat spotted, and brownish on the outside.
"The greene Popperin is a winter fruit, of equall goodnesse with the former.
"The Soveraigne peare, that which I have seene and tasted, and so termed unto me, was a small brownish yellow peare, but of a most dainty taste; but some doe take a kind of Bon Chretien, called the Elizabeth peare, to be the Soveraigne peare; how truely let others judge.
"The Kings peare is a very good and well tasted peare.
"The peare Royall is a great peare, and of a good rellish.
"The Warwicke peare is a reasonable faire and good peare.
"The Greenfield peare is a very good peare, of a middle size.
"The Lewes peare is a brownish greene peare, ripe about the end of September, a resonable well rellished fruit, and very moist.
"The Bishop peare is a middle sized peare, of a reasonable good taste, not very waterish; but this property is oftentimes seene in it, that before the fruit is gathered, (but more usually those that fall of themselves, and the rest within a while after they are gathered) will be rotten at the core, when there will not be a spot or blemish to bee seene on the outside, or in all the peare, untill you come neare the core.
"The Wilford peare is a good and a faire peare.
"The Bell peare a very good greene peare.
"The Portingall peare is a great peare, but more goodly in shew than good indeed.
"The Gratiola peare is a kinde of Bon Chretien, called the Cowcumber peare, or Spinola's peare.
"The Rowling peare is a good peare, but hard, and not good before it bee a little rowled or bruised, to make it eate the more mellow.
"The Pimpe peare is as great as the Windsor peare, but rounder, and of a very good rellish.
"The Turnep peare is a hard winter peare, not so good to eate rawe, as it is to bake.
"The Arundell peare is most plentifull in Stiffolke, and there commended to be a verie good peare.
"The Berry peare is a Summer peare, reasonable faire and great, and of so good and wholesome a taste, that few or none take harme by eating never so many of them.
"The Sand peare is a reasonable good peare, but small.
"The Morley peare is a very good peare, like in forme and colour unto the Windsor, but somewhat grayer.
"The peare pricke is very like unto the Greenfield peare, being both faire, great, and good.
"The good Rewell is a reasonable great peare, as good to bake as to eate rawe, and both wayes it is a good fruit.
"The Hawkes Bill peare is of a middle size, somewhat like unto the Rowling peare.
"The Petworth peare is a winter peare, and is great, somewhat long, faire, and good.
"The Slipper peare is a reasonable good peare.
'The Robert peare is a very good peare, plentifull in Suffolke and Norfolke.
"The Pound peare is a reasonable good peare, both to eate rawe, and to bake.
"The Ten Pound peare, or the hundred pound peare, the truest and best, is the best Bon Chretien of Syon, so called, because the grafts cost the Master so much the fetching by the messengers expences, when he brought nothing else.
"The Gilloflower peare is a winter peare, faire in shew, but hard, and not fit to bee eaten rawe, but very good to bake.
"The peare Couteau is neither good one way nor other.
"The Binsce peare is a reasonable good winter peare, of a russetish colour, and a small fruit: but will abide good a long while.
"The Pucell is a greene peare, of an indifferent good taste.
"The blacke Sorrell is a reasonable great long peare, of a darke red colour on the outside.
"The red Sorrell is of a redder colour, else like the other.
"The Surrine is no very good peare.
"The Summer Hasting is a little greene peare, of an indifferent good rellish.
"Peare Gergonell is an early peare, somewhat long, and of a very pleasant taste.
"The white Genneting is a reasonable good peare, yet not equall to the other.
"The Sweater is somewhat like the Windsor for colour and bignesse, but nothing neare of so good a taste.
"The bloud red peare is of a darke red colour on the outside, but piercing very little into the inner pulpe.
"The Hony peare is a long greene Summer peare.
"The Winter peare is of many sorts, but this is onely so called, to bee distinguished from all other Winter peares, which have severall names given them, and is a very good peare.
"The Warden or Luke Wards peare of two sorts, both white and red, both great and small.
"The Spanish Warden is greater than either of both the former, and better also.
"The peare of Jerusalem, or the stript peare, whose barke while it is young, is as plainly seene to be stript with greene, red, and yellow, as the fruit it selfe is also, and is of a very good taste: being baked also, it is as red as the best Warden, whereof Master William Ward of Essex hath assured mee, who is the chiefe keeper of the Kings Granary at Whitehall.
"Hereof likewise there is a wilde kinde no bigger than ones thumbe, and striped in the like manner, but much more.
"The Choke peares, and other wilde peares, both great and small, as they are not to furnish our Orchard, but the Woods, Forrests, Fields, and Hedges, so wee leave them to their naturall places, and to them that keep them, and make good use of them."
Three hundred years have played havoc with the pears Parkinson knew. None are known in America, and unless the Pound of Parkinson is the Pound of today, not a half dozen are found in current lists in England. Parkinson's Catherine, Winter Bon Chretien, Windsor, Bergamot, possibly the Pound, and his Gergonell, the Jargonelle of today, are about all the names that would be recognized by modern pear-growers. The pear shows far fewer familiar names at the end of three centuries than Parkinson lists of apples, plums, cherries, or even the peach in Europe. Dropping old varieties can only be interpreted as improvement in the pear. The pear, it seems certain, has been more profoundly changed for the better through the touch of man's hand than the other fruits named since Parkinson wrote. For this, pomology has the Belgians to thank.
Pear culture seems to have reached its height, if it be judged by its literature and by the number of varieties cultivated, early in the nineteenth century. The Belgians' passion for pears was no doubt the chief stimulus, for the Belgian breeders spread their offerings with generous hand throughout England. In 1826, the catalog of the Horticultural Society of London listed 622 pears. Pomology in England was then, and is now as compared with America, an art of the leisure classes. This has been an advantage and a disadvantage to the pear in England. The advantage is that when fruit is grown for pleasure many varieties are grown to add novelty to luxury so that the fruit is thereby more rapidly improved and its culture brought to greater perfection. The disadvantage is that those who grow fruit for market find a poorer market for their wares since those who should be their best customers supply their own wants. For the reason, therefore, that the English take delight in growing their own fruit, pear-growing is not the great commercial enterprise that it is in America.
Pear-growing in England differs from that of America in another respect. The pear-tree in England is built as much as planted. In many plantations each tree has a precise architectural form. The plants are trained into fans, cordons, espaliers and u-forms on walls; or as pyramids, globes, or vases in the open; sometimes in fantastic shapes to suit the fancy of the grower; and now and then as a hedge or border. The undisciplined standards of America are hardly known, though what the English call a standard seems to be increasing. This difference in training is due in part to the necessity of meeting different climatic conditions, and in part to greater devotion on the Englishman's part to the art of gardening the use of the shears, the knife, and the billhook give the gardener greater scope. The pear-tree in England is often decorative as well as useful.
THE PEAR IN AMERICA
The pear is a popular fruit in America, but its culture as a commercial product is limited to a few favored localities. From the earliest records of fruit-growing in America the pear has been grown less than the apple and peach and scarcely more than the cherry and plum. In Europe, it is a question if the pear is not more commonly grown than the apple, and is much more common than the plum and the peach, the last-named fruit being grown out of doors for most part only in southern Europe. Pears are more varied in size, shape, texture, and flavor of flesh than others of the hardy tree-fruits, and in length of season exceed all others excepting the apple. Varieties of pears, possibly, have the charm of individuality more marked than varieties of its orchard associates. The trees, where environment permits their culture, are not difficult to grow, and attain greater size, produce larger crops, and live longer than any other hardy fruit. Why, then, is the pear not more popular in America? Conditions of climate, pests, season of ripening, taste, and trade prevent the expansion of pear-culture on this side of the Atlantic.
The climate in most parts of America is uncongenial to the pear. Pears from the European stock, to which most varieties grown in America belong, thrive only in relatively equable climates, and do not endure well the sudden and extreme variations in climate to which most parts of this continent are subject. Extremes of heat or cold, wetness or dryness, are fatal to the pear. In North America, therefore, commercial pear-culture is confined to favored localities on the Atlantic seaboard, about the Great Lakes, and on the Pacific slope. Even in these favored regions, pears sent to market come largely from the plantations of specialists. On the Atlantic seaboard, European pears are products of commerce only in southern New England and New York, westward through Ohio on the shores of Lake Erie, and in the southern lake regions of Michigan. Away from these bodies of water to the Pacific, varieties of European pears refuse to grow except with the utmost care in culture and selection of sites. On the Pacific slope, in the hardy-fruit regions, the pear reaches its highest development in the New World. Oriental pears, or varieties having Oriental blood, as Kieffer and Le Conte, are grown in every part of America where the culture of hardy fruits is attempted.
Liability to loss by pests is a great detriment to the popularity of the pear in America. The insect pests of pears are numerous. Codling-moths attack the fruit wherever the pear is grown in America, and can be kept down only by expensive arsenical sprays. The psylla, while irregular in its outbreaks, is most damaging and hard to control when it appears. These are the chief insect enemies, but a dozen others take more or less toll from tree or fruit. Foliage and fruit are attacked by several parasitic fungi, of which pear-scab is most troublesome, requiring treatment wherever the pear is grown, and under favorable conditions for the fungus preventives often fail to give the fruits a fair cheek. But of all diseases pear-blight is the most serious, its effects and virulency being such as to give it the popular name "fireblight." It is caused by a bacterium which cannot be checked by sprays, and must be combatted with expensive and unsatisfactory sanitary measures, such as cutting out branches and trees, so drastic as to make impossible commercial cultivation of pears in regions where climate favors the disease.
Pears compete with apples more than with any other fruit, but are at a disadvantage with this near relative in having a much shorter period during which the fruits can be used. Varieties of the two fruits begin to ripen at nearly the same season, but there are few sorts of pears in season later than December, and these are of poorer quality than the fall varieties; while apples are abundant and of prime quality four or five months later, and may be kept until early apples usher in a new season. During most of its season, also, the pear must compete with the perishable summer and autumn plums and peaches, so luscious and delectable that the firmer and less highly flavored pome-fruits suffer in comparison.
Still another reason why the pear is not a popular dessert fruit in America is that, of all fruits, the varieties of this one are the most variable in quality of the product. Sorts that should produce pears of highest quality bear fruits poor or indifferent in texture and flavor in unfavorable seasons, on unsuitable soils, or under neglect, Good pears can be grown only when environmental factors are favorable and under the most generous treatment. Extensive cultivation of the Kieffer and its kin for canning has hindered the cultivation of pears for the fruit-stand and to grace the table as a dessert fruit. So common has the Kieffer become that many of the present generation are hardly aware that the pear may be a delicious fruit to eat out of hand.
Lastly, the pear falls short of the apple as a commercial product because it is not nearly so satisfactory to handle as a commercial crop. Pears are more difficult to pack, and do not stand transportation as well as apples. They cannot be kept in cold storage nearly as long, and decay more quickly when brought into warmer temperatures. The demand for evaporated pears is slight in comparison with that for evaporated apples, and although perry, the expressed [fermented (contains alcohol) -ASC] juice of pears, is quite as refreshing as cider, this by-product of the fruit is little known in America. As a prepared product, the pear surpasses the apple only as a canned fruit. Failing in comparison with the apple, as a commercial product, pears are largely left to fruit connoisseurs, and with these a generation ago the pear was the fruit of fruits, many splendid collections of it having been made in regions where pears could be grown. With the expansion of commercial fruit-growing, collections of pears, and with them many choice varieties, have gone out of cultivation more is the pity and pear-growing has expanded least of all the fruit industries in the United States.
With this brief discussion of the present status of pear-culture in this country, we can proceed to trace the history of the pear with more exactness by reason of knowing its limitations under American conditions.
The peach is the only hardy fruit that belongs to the heroic age of Spanish discovery in the New World. Pears, apples, plums, and cherries came to the new continent with the French and English. The early records of fruit-growing in America show that the pear came among the first luxuries of the land in the French and English settlements from Canada to Florida. Pioneers in any country begin at once to cultivate the soil for the means of sustenance. Naturally, cereals and easily-grown nutritious vegetables receive attention first as giving more immediate harvests and more sustaining fare to supplement game and fish. Agriculture and gardening usually precede orcharding, and this was the case in early settlements in America, but not long. The first generation born in colonial America knew and used all of the hardy fruits from Europe; as many records attest, and of which there is confirmatory proof with the pear in many ancient pear-trees of great size near the old settlements, some of which were planted by the first settlers from Europe. Of pears, many notable trees planted by the hands of the first English and French who crossed the seas to settle the new country were conspicuous monuments in various parts of America in the memory of men still living, if, indeed, some of the old trees themselves are not still standing.
Of these ancient pear-trees, New England furnishes the most notable monuments to mark the introduction of this fruit in the New World. Fortunately, their histories have been preserved in several horticultural annals, and of these accounts the fullest and best is by Robert Manning, Jr., in the Proceedings of the American Pomological Society for 1875, pages 100 to 103. Manning's notes throw so much light on the early history of the pear in New England, as well as upon the varieties then grown, that they are published in full.
"The Endicott Pear. The tradition in the Endicott family is that this tree was planted in 1630. It is said that the trees constituting the original orchard came over from England in June, in the Arabella with Governor Winthrop, or in one of the other ships of the fleet arriving at Salem in June. The farm on which the tree now stands, not having been granted to Endicott until 1632, it is not probable that the trees were planted there before that time, but they might have been at first set in the Governor's town garden at Salem, where the Rev. Francis Higginson, on his arrival in the summer of 1629, found a vine-yard already planted. The tradition further states that the Governor said that the tree was of the same date with a sun-dial which formerly stood near it. This dial, after having passed through the hands of the Rev. William Bentley, D.D., is now in the Essex Institute in Salem, and bears the date 1630, with the Governor's initials. The farm, which early bore the name of ' Orchard,1 was occupied and cultivated by the Governor and his descendants for 184 years, from 1632 to 1816, and was held solely by the original grant until 1828, a period of 196 years. Under these circumstances the history of the tree is more likely to have been handed down correctly than if the estate had changed hands. It is certain that Governor Endicott was early engaged in propagating trees, for in a letter to John Winthrop in 1644, he speaks of having at least 500 trees burnt by his children setting fire near them, and, in a letter to John Winthrop, Jr., a year later, of being engaged to pay for 1500 trees.
"As early as 1763 the tree was very old and decayed. It was very much injured in the gale of 1804. In the gale of 1815 it was so much shattered that its recovery was considered doubtful. It was injured again in a gale about 1843. For the last fifty years it has been protected by a fence around it. In 1837 it was eighty feet high by measurement and fifty-five feet in the circumference of its branches, and does not probably vary much from these dimensions now. Two suckers have sprung up on opposite sides of the tree, which bear the same fruit as the original, proving it to be ungrafted. It stands near the site of the first mansion of the Governor, on a slope where it is somewhat sheltered from the north and northwest winds. The soil is a light loam, with a substratum of clay. Grafts taken from the old tree grow very vigorously. From a pomological point of view, the fruit is of no value. It is hardly of medium size, roundish, green, with more or less rough russet, very coarse, and soon decays.
"It may be of interest to state that the farm on which the old tree stands is again in the Endicott name, having lately been purchased by a descendant of the Governor. The tree stands in the town of Danvers originally a part of Salem.
"For further facts concerning this tree, see the Transactions of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society for 1837, and also an article by Charles M. Endicott, a descendant of the Governor, in Hovey's Magazine of Horticulture, vol. xix, p. 254, June, 1853, from which the above account has been mainly derived. Each of these articles is illustrated with a cut of the pear.
"The Orange Pear. This tree is owned by Capt. Charles H. Allen, and stands in his yard on Hardy street, Salem. The Rev. Dr. Bentley, who died about 1820, investigated the history of this tree and found it to be then 180 years old, which would make it now 235 years old. The trunk is hollow, nine feet five inches in circumference in the smallest part near the ground; just below the limbs it is several inches more. The tree is more than forty feet high, and the limbs are supported by shores. It was grafted in the limbs, as a branch fifteen or twenty years old, shooting out several feet higher than a man's head, produces 'Button' pears, and a large limb, part of which was 'Button' which grew out still higher up, was blown off several years ago. In the very favorable pear season of 1862 it bore thirteen and a half bushels of pears. It bears in alternate years, having produced eight and a half bushels in 1873. The brittleness of the limbs of old pear trees is well known, yet Capt. Allen, with a care worthy of imitation, gathers every pear, excepting about a dozen specimens, by hand.
"This variety was, until the introduction of the modern kinds, highly esteemed. It is above medium size, averaging fifty-six pears to the peck, globular obtuse pyriform, covered with thin russet, juicy when gathered early and ripened in the house; of pleasant flavor but rather deficient in this respect. It is ripe about the middle of September. It was considered by my father a native, and was called by him the American Orange, and after examination of the descriptions and plates, I cannot think it the same as the Orange Rouge or Orange d'Automne of Duhamel, Decaisne, and Leroy. The Hon. Paul Dudley, Esq., of Roxbury, in some ' Observations on some of the Plants in New England with remarkable Instances of the Power of Vegetation/ communicated to the Royal Society of London (I quote from the 'Philosophical Transactions,' abridged, London, 1734, Vol. VI, Part II, p. 341), says: ' An Orange Pear Tree grows the largest, and yields the fairest fruit. I know one of them near forty Foot high, that measures six Foot and six Inches in Girt, a Yard from the Ground, and has borne thirty Bushels at a Time, and this Year I measured an Orange pear, that grew in my own Orchard, of eleven Inches round the Bulge.'
"If this is, as believed, of native origin, it is the oldest American fruit in cultivation, unless we except the Apple pear, which is probably of about the same date. This is small, oblate, of pale yellow color, ripening in August. It is quite distinct from the Poire Pomme d'Hiver, of Leroy, and I think also from the Poire Pomme d'Ete, of the same author. I had supposed the variety to be extinct, but last year discovered in a garden in Salem the remnant of an old tree with a trunk four feet in diameter, and still producing fruit.
"The Orange pear tree which produced the specimens exhibited, was inherited by the present owner from his father, to whom it came from his wife. It had descended to her almost from the first settlement of Salem, but partly in the female line, so that the name of the owner sometimes changed. The house on the estate was built in 1812, having replaced one which was pulled down after standing 150 years. Within the period of a generation there were standing in Salem several trees of the Orange pear, some of which were reputed to be more than two centuries old, and all of which were undoubtedly very ancient, but they are all now gone except Capt. Allen's, the last one having been blown down in the winter of 1874-75. I have heard a tradition that this last mentioned tree was one of several imported from England and planted in gardens at intervals on the northerly side of the principal street in Salem. This tradition may or may not be true with regard to these trees, but it would not apply to the Allen tree, for the height at which it was grafted forbids the idea that it was imported from England in a grafted state.
"The Anthony Thacher Pear. This tree stands near the meadows about a fourth of a mile north of the Universalist church in Yarmouth, where Anthony Thacher's house formerly stood. It is a large, rotten-hearted old tree. It has lost nearly all its old branches, but has thrown out many new ones. The late Judge George Thacher, who, if now living, would be 120 years old, inquired into its history, and made the matter certain that it was planted by Anthony Thacher about 1640. It is believed to be a grafted tree, as it contracts two or three inches at about a foot and a half from the ground. It is taken good care of and will probably last many years. It is now owned by the heirs of James C. Hallet. There are other trees of the same kind in the vicinity, but their age cannot be proved.
"The fruit is of medium size, ovate pyriform, green, changing to yellow at maturity, of tolerable quality, ripening early in September. For the specimens exhibited, as well as the facts above noted, I am indebted to the kindness of Amos Otis, Esq., of Yarmouth Port, who had made the local history of Cape Cod his study for the last fifty years, and who died much lamented on the 19th of October last.
"Anthony Thacher came from England in 1635, and after residing in Marshfield, removed to Yarmouth in 1639, being one of the three original grantees of land in that town. The late Dr. James Thacher, of Plymouth, author of the ' American Orchardist ' (published in 1821), was a descendant of Anthony in the sixth generation. Anthony Thacher accompanied his cousin, Rev. John Avery, in that disastrous voyage of which Whittier has perpetuated the memory in his ballad, ' The Swan Song of Parson Avery.' Anthony Thacher got ashore on Thacher's Island, the headland of Cape Ann, and gave name to the island. (See Whittier's ' Home Ballads' and Young's 'Chronicles of the First Planters of Massachusetts,' p. 485.)
"I endeavored, but without success, to obtain fruit from the pear tree planted at least as early as 1650, by Governor Prence, or Prince, at Eastham, on Cape Cod, and now owned by Capt. Ezekiel Doane. It is known as the Fall pear. It is about the size of a hen's egg, tapering towards both ends, green, nearly covered with thin russet, of inferior quality, but not as coarse as the Endicott. In 1836 it was a flourishing, lofty tree, producing an average of fifteen bushels of fruit. It consisted of two stems, branching from the ground, the larger of which was blown down in the great storm of April, 1851. The portion now remaining is thirty-five feet high. It is a natural tree and has not failed of bearing for twenty years. It stands in low ground.
"The Pickering or Warden Pear. This tree was grafted on the 19th of April, 1775, the day the battle of Lexington was fought, and must have been at that time a small tree. It is called by the owner the Uvedale Warden or Pickering pear, which are synonyms of the Uvedale's St. Germain or Pound, but it is entirely distinct from that variety, being much smaller as well as otherwise different. It resembles, and very probably is identical with, a variety which I have known as the English Warden, but which I do not find described in any pomological work, and have not seen for years. It is of medium size, turbinate, light yellow, with a dull brownish cheek, in use in winter, for cooking only. Paul Dudley says, in the paper above quoted, ' I have a Warden Pear Tree that measures five Foot six Inches round/
"The Pickering tree contracts suddenly at about a foot from the ground, where it must have been grafted. It shows no sign of being grafted elsewhere. Below the point of grafting, it is full two feet in diameter and is about twenty-five feet high. It stands in a low, moist place. The top was much injured by the great gale of September, 1869, losing several large limbs, but the tree is on the whole in good preservation. In the same garden is a tree probably as old or older, believed to be a Messire Jean.
"The estate, now much circumscribed from its original extent, on which this tree stands, has been in the same family since 1642, having been purchased in that year by John Pickering, who came from England in 1637, and built the house, now standing and occupied by the owner, in 1651. It is on Broad street, Salem. The tree was grafted by John Pickering, of the fifth generation.
"The Hon. Timothy Pickering, eminent for his incorruptible integrity and immovable firmness, who successively held the offices of Adjutant-general and Quartermaster-general in the Revolutionary army, and of Postmaster-general, Secretary of War, and Secretary of State in the Cabinet of President Washington, and continued to hold the last named office under President Adams, was a brother of John. At the breaking out of the Revolution he was Colonel of the Essex regiment, and on the day when this tree was grafted by John Pickering, who was an invalid, his more vigorous brother mustered his regiment and marched to intercept the retreating British troops. Timothy Pickering was also interested in agriculture, having been Secretary of the Philadelphia Society for Promoting Agriculture, the oldest agricultural society in the United States, and after his return to Massachusetts, was the first President of the Essex County Agricultural Society. The estate on which the old pear tree stands was devised by John Pickering, who died unmarried, to his nephew John, son of Timothy, the most eminent American philologist of his time. On his death, it descended to his son John, the present owner, to whom I am indebted for the facts here stated, as well as for the specimens of fruit exhibited at Chicago last September."
Out of an embarrassing number of references in regard to the early introduction of the pear in New England one may choose the following: Francis Higginson, writing in 1629, notes that pears are under cultivation in New England. In the same year, a memorandum of the Massachusetts Company shows that seeds of pears, with those of other fruits were sent to the colony. Trees from these seeds grew amazingly fast in the virgin soils of the colony, for John Josselyn, who made voyages to New England in 1638 and 1639, writing in his New England Rarities Discovered, notes that "fruit trees prosper abundantly "enumerating, among others, those of the pear. Josselyn further says "the Kernels sown or Succors planted produce as fair and good fruit, without grafting, as the trees from which they were taken," and that "the Countrey is replenished with fair and large Orchards."As early as 1641 a nursery had been started in Massachusetts and no doubt was selling pear-trees. These probably came from seeds, for trees were not imported until in the next century. Varieties were few then as for many years later. In 1726, Paul Dudley, one of the Chief Justices of Massachusetts, in a paper in the Philosophical Transactions, says, "Our apples are without doubt as good as those of England, and much fairer to look to, and so are the pears, but we have not got all the sorts."In another paragraph, Justice Dudley gives the following account of several varieties of pears in these first orchards in New England.
He says: "An Orange Pear Tree grows the largest and yields the fairest Fruit. I know one'of them near forty Foot high, that measures six Foot and six Inches in Girt, a Yard from the Ground, and has borne thirty Bushels at a Time: and this year I measured an Orange Pear, that grew in my own Orchard, of eleven Inches round the Bulge. I have a Warden Pear Tree, that measures five Foot six Inches round. One of my Neighbors has a Bergamot Pear Tree that was brought from England in a Box, about the Year 1643, that now measures six Foot about, and has borne twenty-two Bushels of fine Pears in one Year. About twenty years since, the Owner took a Cyon, and grafted it upon a common Hedge Pear; but the Fruit does not prove altogether so good, and the Rind or Skin, is thicker than that of the Original."
Thus, early in the history of Massachusetts, the pear was largely planted and became a prominent fruit. These early plantations grew so well that no doubt they inspired the horticulturists of the first half of the nineteenth century, of which the names of Dearborn, Hovey, Kenrick, the two Mannings, and Wilder are notable in the history of the pear in this country, to undertake the popularization of this fruit by extensive culture, by breeding new varieties, and by the introduction of the best pears from Europe. Their work, as we shall see later, gave pear-growing its first great impetus in America. Until the middle of the last century, the pear industry in America centered in Massachusetts; and most of the new varieties which originated in this country and nearly all of the introductions from abroad came from that state.
The pear was not neglected in the other New England states as the horticultural records of all attest, but its history in the several states is so similar in time and events that the account of its early culture in Massachusetts suffices for the whole region. It must, however, be noted that the pear was introduced in Maine at a very early date, probably by the French. In an orchard on the east bank of the Sheepscot, below Wiscasset Bay, a venerable pear-tree stood until early in the nineteenth century of such girt and height that it was supposed to be more than 200 years old. Of the planting of this orchard there are no records nor traditions. The most reasonable supposition was that the trees had been planted there by the French in one of the several attempts of France to colonize the coast of Maine.
This introduction of the French in the history of the pear in the New World, brings us to a discussion of the part they took in bringing this fruit to America. The debt to France for early horticulture in America rests largely on tradition, but in the case of the pear, there are such substantial proofs of it in ancient pear-trees of enormous size found on the sites of old French settlements, that though there are no written records, and even the people and their habitations have disappeared, it is certain that the seeds from which these venerable trees sprang were planted by early French explorers or missionaries. The first plantings of pears made by the French were in Canada. History and tradition, substantiated by ancient trees, make certain that this fruit was planted by the first French settlers in Nova Scotia, Cape Breton, Prince Edward Island, in favored situations bordering on the St. Lawrence, and on the islands in this river, notably the Island of Montreal. Later plantations of fruit were set in the Niagara region and along the Detroit river. No new varieties seem to have come from these early plantings in Canada, but they demonstrated that pear-growing was possible.
The history of the pear in America cannot be written without making note of the magnificent specimens of this fruit standing until recent years a few may still be found about the old French settlements in Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois. These are offspring of seeds brought from France. A century ago the French habitants in Detroit had a tradition as to the manner in which these pears were introduced. The legend ran that an emigrant from France brought three pear seeds in his vest pocket, which, planted on the banks of the Detroit river, became the parents through suckers and seeds of the gigantic old pear-trees that have long been such striking landmarks of the towns and farms on the Detroit river. No doubt these trees are the remains of orchards in which there were apples, and possibly some plums and cherries, of which the shorter-lived trees long since disappeared, while the pears, flourishing in a green old age, are the sole remaining relics of the old French settlements of this region. The writer herewith puts on record another account of these truly remarkable pears as he saw them in 1899.
All of these ancient French pears are of the same type, but the fruits vary slightly, indicating that the trees were grown from seeds, although some may have come from sprouts since many of the trees throw out sprouts abundantly. The pears are of medium size, usually turbinate, and lemon-yellow is the predominating color. The ripening season runs from late summer to early winter. The flesh is melting, juicy, usually mildly sweet, spicy, not high in quality for dessert but excellent for all culinary purposes. But the most remarkable characters of these French pears are the great size of the trees and their vigor, healthfulness, productiveness, and longevity. The trees have the majestic port of a century-old elm or oak. They attain a height of eighty feet; a girt of eight or ten feet is not uncommon, while one monarch measured by the writer fell a few inches short of eleven feet in circumference three feet from the ground. The leaves are small but abundant, and are of the luxuriant green color that betokens great vigor. The trees have attained immunity to blight, but the fruits are inviting prey to codling-moth when that insect is rife. In these rich river-bottom lands the trees almost annually load themselves with fruit, a crop of from forty to fifty bushels on one tree not being uncommon. No one knows the age of most of these ancient lichen-covered giants, although one which stood until a few years ago was known to have been planted within the pickets of the palisaded fortress of Detroit in 1705.
A generation or two ago, these French pears were very common about the French settlements of Michigan and Canada in this region but they have been disappearing fast, until it is doubtful if any of those set by French habitants can be found now. The pears possessed no commercial value, and were replaced by named varieties better known by fruit-growers and nurserymen. It is doubtful if the trees of the newcomers will ever attain the age, size, vigor, and productiveness of these oldtimers of the French, characters which make them noteworthy in the history of the pear in America.
Pear-trees of enormous size survive on other sites of old French settlements in the United States to show what notable horticulturists the early missionaries of this people were, who, we are many times told in the early records, usually surrounded their missions and homes with trees of the apple, peach, pear, and cherry. Pear-trees very like those found about the French settlements in Canada and Michigan still grow in the rich intervale lands of the Wabash and Mississippi in Indiana, Illinois, and Missouri. Vincennes, Indiana, was settled by the French in 1702; Kas-kaskia and Cahokia, Illinois, about 1685; St. Louis, Missouri, in 1764. These may be set down as approximate dates in which horticulture began in these inland regions. When the English conquered these settlements they found giant pear-trees which persisted well into the last century, the second generation of which were scattered far and wide in the river settlements of this region. Tradition says that a Monsieur Girardin, a native of France, planted a pear orchard from seeds he brought with him at Cahokia about 1780, from which came the Prairie du Pont pear, a small, roundish, lemon-colored fruit similar to the French pears of Detroit, borne on an immense blight-proof tree. No doubt the variety could still be found in this part of the Mississippi valley. One wishes that the American-born descendants and the conquerers of these early settlers from Normandy were as energetic in forwarding horticulture as the first settlers. After the invasion of the English and later the Americans, there is little evidence of progress in horticulture in this region, until the early years of the nineteenth century.
Another famous pear-tree of the Middle West is worthy of notice as an evidence of early interest in horticulture. This tree, known as the Ockletree pear, from the name of its owner, has acquired fame as the largest pear-tree of which there is record. The tree was a seedling brought from Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, in 1804, and was planted in an orchard at Vincennes, Indiana. It bore a number of record-breaking crops, the largest of which was 140 bushels of pears borne in 1837. In 1855, the trunk measured ten and one-half feet in circumference at the smallest place below the limbs; the top was estimated to have a spread of 75 feet. The tree gained its great port and productiveness from spread of branch rather than height, which was estimated to be only 65 feet. The variety was unknown, but the fruit was said to be somewhat inferior in quality. This monarch of its species was struck by a tornado in 1867 which stripped off its branches and caused the death of the tree a few years later.
Another living monument marked the beginnings of pear-culture in America until 1866, when the trunk, little more than a shell, was broken down by a dray, having furnished shade and shelter in a New York garden for 220 years. This garden was laid out by the redoubtable Peter Stuyvesant who took the reins of government in New Amsterdam in 1647, at which time this pear-tree was planted. The pear was a Summer Bon Chretien, said to have been imported from Holland in a tub. Stuyvesant's garden, kept in a high state of cultivation by forty or fifty negro slaves, was called the "Bouwery,"now the Bowery, and the pear-tree in it stood at what is now the corner of Third Avenue and Thirteenth Street. No doubt other pears were imported from Holland at the same time, and from these and seeds and sprouts, this fruit was started in the Dutch settlements up and down the Hudson, where the pear even to this day is a favorite fruit, finding here a more congenial soil and climate than in any other part of America.
Soon after Governor Stuyvesant planted his bowery of fruits, flowers, and vegetables, the French laid out orchards in the vicinity of New York City. After the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685, many Huguenots fled to America. In 1689, some of these French emigres settled at New Rochelle, New York, and on Long Island. The trees grown by the Huguenots were usually grafted, the parent plants having been brought from France. No doubt, it was from these importations that White Doyenné, Brown Beurre, St. Germain, Virgouleuse, and many other old French sorts that seem to have been in America from time immemorial came.
However, the pear, in common with other fruits, was more largely grown from seeds in these pioneer days than from buds or grafts. Fruits were known and grown as species and not as varieties almost wholly in America until the nineteenth century. The sale of budded or grafted trees began in New York, so far as records show, with the establishment of a nursery at Flushing, Long Island, in 1730, by Robert Prince. This nursery afterwards became the famous Linnaean Botanic Garden. At what date Prince began to offer grafted pears for sale cannot now be ascertained, but advertisements appearing in 1767, 1771, and 1790 offer named varieties at these dates. The following is a list of pears offered by the Princes in 1771:
Catharine Early sugar
Vergalieu Baurre vert
July Winter baurre
Monsier Jean Baurre de roy
Trom valette Green chissel
French primative Swan's Egg
Winter bon Cretan Colmar
Easter bergamot Cressan
Amber Spanish bon Cretan
Chaumontelle Large bell
Citron de camis La Chassaire
Summer bergamot Hampden's bergamot
Autumn bergamot Doctor Uvedale's St. Germain
Amozelle Large winter, weighs near two pounds
Lent St. Germain Pear wardens
Brocaus bergamot Empress
Winter bergamot Large summer baking
Jargonelle The black pear of Worcester or Parkinson's
Cuissemadam The skinless
Coincident with the establishment of nurseries selling named varieties of pears another event of prime importance to pear-growers occurred. Pear-blight became epidemic in the orchards along the Hudson, and while it must have been noticed before, its ravages at this time brought it prominently to the attention of pear-growers. The disease seems to have been first mentioned by William Denning who described it in the Transactions of the Society for the Promotion of Agriculture for 1794 (pt. 2, p. 219) in an article on the decay of apple-trees. Denning says that he first saw the malady in orchards on the highlands of the Hudson in 1780 attacking apples, pears, and quinces. He gives a good description of the disease, but says it is caused by a borer in the trunk which he found after much labor. From Denning's discovery until Burrill a hundred years later, in 1882, discovered a cause of the disease and suggested a preventive, every treatise on the pear speculates on the cause and cure of pear-blight, a disease which has been and is the terror and despair of growers of this fruit.
Philadelphia was another center of pear-growing in the early settlements of the country. The Quakers, settling in Pennsylvania in 1682, planted all of the hardy fruits; which were soon, as we are several times told, a great asset to the colony. No results worthy of note seem to have come from these early plantings until nearly a half century later when John Bartram founded, in 1728, what became a famous botanic garden. The Bartram Botanic Garden became almost at once the clearing house for native and foreign fruits and plants, and to it came several varieties of pears for distribution throughout the colonies. Here, the first variety of the pear to originate in America of which we have definite record, came into existence. This was the Petre pear raised by Bartram, from seeds sent him from England by Lady Petre. The seed was planted in 1735 near the stone house which Bartram built with his own hands. The tree still stands, somewhat stricken with its two centuries, but withal a noble specimen seemingly capable of breasting the blows of age for many years to come.
The pear industry of the eastern United States is confined to the regions in which the history of this fruit has been traced, and most if not all of the varieties that originated in this country until the middle of the nineteenth century came from the importations to these French, Dutch, and English settlements. There is little profit, therefore, in attempting to trace further the history of pear-culture on the Atlantic seaboard in colonial times. Pears were grown in the states south of Pennsylvania, for many references are found in the colonial records of the southern states, but they bring out no new facts to illuminate the history of this fruit in America. The Quakers and Swedes grew pears in the regions watered by the Delaware, and the English in Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina all planted pears with the other hardy fruits only to find that they so quickly succumbed to unfavorable climate and the blight as to be unprofitable. The Bergamy and Warden, in particular, are mentioned as varieties of this fruit grown in the colonial period of the southern colonies.
Perhaps one, at least, of these lesser centers of pear-growing somewhat to the south of the pear regions in which there are now commercial plantations should receive notice. In 1794, William Coxe, Burlington, New Jersey, began planting experimental orchards. Coxe was acquainted with the leading pomologists of Europe and his own country, and collected the best varieties of tree-fruits to be found in the United States, England, and France. In 1817, he published his View of the Cultivation of Fruit Trees, and the Management of Orchards and Cider, etc., the first American book on pomology. This pioneer pomologist described 65 varieties of pears, most of which he had grown at one time or another on his own place, and names 21 other sorts that were grown in his and neighboring states. Coxe seems to have been the first nurseryman to import new varieties from the Old World. To Coxe, more than to any other one man, the regions adjacent to the Delaware are indebted for the early development of fruit-growing both for pleasure and profit, and the whole country is indebted to him for the introduction of many fine fruits.
A new phase in the history of the pear began soon after the Revolutionary war. Until this time, and until well into the next century, tree-fruits were nearly all seedlings. The pears of the country until as late as 1830 were for most part seedlings, the fruits varying greatly in size, shape, color, and flavor. According to the accounts of the times, the product was so hard of flesh and so astringent in flavor as to be fit only for cooking and perry. Indeed, the great object in growing apples, pears, and peaches was the making of cider, perry, and peach-brandy. Good eating pears were few indeed. But beginning in a small way with Coxe in New Jersey, as noted, a little later with William Kenrick, Newton, Massachusetts, and still later with Robert Manning, Salem, Massachusetts, the importation of European varieties of fruits became an important part of the nursery business. The importation of pears became an obsession with Manning, his nursery alone importing several hundred varieties. Manning's work must have a more extended notice.
In 1823, Robert Manning established a pomological garden at Salem, Massachusetts, to collect and test as many varieties of fruits as he could obtain, native and foreign, with the intention of propagating and distributing those which proved most worthy. In furthering this great project he entered into correspondence with the leading pomologists of Europe, and from them secured trees and cions, which, with native sorts, brought his collection up to 2000 varieties of fruits at the time of his death in 1842. More than half of the varieties planted by Manning were pears. This, it will be remembered, was the period in which Belgian, French, and English pomologists were making pears a specialty, and led by Van Mons, the Belgian scientist, had succeeded in putting almost a new pear flora in the hands of fruit-growers. Manning grew in America nearly all of Van Mons' introductions, received direct from the originator, and many acquisitions from other European pomologists as well, notably many varieties from Robert Thompson of the London Horticultural Society. Manning was one of the most careful observers amongst American pomologists, and to him pear-growers are indebted for the first full and accurate descriptions of the fruits grown in his time in this country. These were published in 1838 in his Book of Fruits. American pomologies before and many since were compilations. Manning made his descriptions first-hand and described no fruit "not actually identified beyond a reasonable doubt of its genuineness."
After Manning, one might well scan the work of several eminent American pomologists who made pears a specialty. Robert Manning, Jr., continued the work of his father with this fruit and the two Downings, Wilder, Barry, and Thomson found the pear the most interesting of the fruits which they grew. To all of these men, pomologists are indebted for the introduction of many new and choice pears; for the identification of varieties; for the correction of the nomenclature of this fruit; for testing hundreds of seedlings and native and foreign varieties; and for the distribution of pears throughout the whole country.
A history of the pear in America requires some mention of its introduction in the Pacific states since that region is now the greatest center of the pear industry in the country, and the home of several notable varieties. Franciscan monks established missions in California at about the time the colonies on the eastern coast were fighting for their independence. To these they brought the cultivated plants of Europe and among them the pear, Vancouver, in 1792, found all of the hardy fruits growing at Santa Clara and the mission of San Buena Ventura, California. Robinson, a little later, describes extensive orchards connected with the mission of San Gabriel in which there were pears in abundance. In 1846, Edwin Bryant found at the mission of San Jose six hundred pear-trees bearing fruit in great abundance and full perfection. The missions were secularized in 1834, and the orchards fell into decay. But the pear and the vine withstood neglect, drouth, and the browsing of cattle to furnish food to the Argonauts of '49. But little came of these early plantings that affects the present industry of growing pears in California either as to methods of culture or the introduction of new varieties.
As an example of the remarkable recuperative power of the pear, however, the orchard which Bryant described in 1846 at the San Gabriel Mission is noteworthy. An enterprising pioneer, W. M. Stockton, grafted over the old orchard in 1854 to improved varieties, and by pruning, cultivation, and irrigation succeeded in rejuvenating it so that the orchard became a profitable commercial plantation the first commercial pear orchard in California. There are other instances given in the early accounts of fruit-growing in California in which the youth of old pear-trees was renewed by generous treatment, showing that the pear in a cong'enial soil and climate is most self-assertive in maintaining life. It could hardly be otherwise than that the health and vigor of these old trees stimulated the planting of fruits by the gold-seekers who rushed to this region in 1849.
Meanwhile, orcharding had been established as an avocation. In the rich Willamette Valley in Oregon, where the growing of wheat and cattle was the vocation, the plantations of hardy fruits made by Henderson Lewelling, near Portland, Oregon, in 1847, included pears and marked the beginning of pear-culture in Oregon. Lewelling's venture, so pregnant with results in pomology for the Pacific Northwest, has been described in The Cherries of New York, and needs no detailed description here. It is mentioned only to call attention to it as another landmark in the history of the pear.
The padres began the cultivation of the pear at the missions. The pioneers of '47 in Oregon and '49 in California started a new era in the cultivation of this and other tree-fruits by introducing named and improved varieties and extending their cultivation along the coast from British Columbia to Lower California. So far, the plantings were fruit gardens, not orchards. The era of commercial fruit-growing began in the year 1869 in which the first fresh fruits were sent east by rail, the shipment amounting to thirty-three tons, mostly pears and apples. This event marks the beginning of a great industry in growing pears on the Pacific slope for the fresh fruit market, and was followed shortly by the introduction of canning and evaporation to use up the surplus product. The special demands of these three more or less distinct industries called for new varieties, and American pomology has been enriched by a score or more varieties of pears from this great pear region.
An event which has had a profound influence on pear-growing in the whole country was the introduction of Oriental pears and their hybrids. The mongrel offspring of the Oriental with the European pear were unfortunate in regions where pure-bred European sorts can be grown, but in vast tracts of the United States, as almost the whole of the South and the Middle West, only hybrids of the two species find a congenial environment, and here varieties with Oriental blood became a great asset. The introduction of these pears, also, has greatly stimulated the canning of this fruit in regions where fruit-preserving is an industry. It was hoped that these hybrids could be used successfully as stocks upon which European varieties could be worked, but the stocks have not proved satisfactory, and their use is decreasing.
The Oriental, Chinese, or Sand pear came into America from Asia by the way of Europe. The importation into Europe was made by the Royal Horticultural Society of London in 1820. There seems to be no record of when these pears reached America, but they were growing in the Prince Nursery as early as 1840 under the names Chinese pear and Sha Lea. Here, or in one of several nurseries to which it was sent by Prince, the Oriental seems to have hybridized with the European pear, the product being the Le Conte, which came to notice in 1846 and is the first of these hybrids on record. The Kieffer fruited first in 1873 and proved to be much better than Le Conte except in certain parts of the South. The Garber, another valuable hybrid, came to notice about 1880. There are now, perhaps, two score of these hybrids, with new ones coming from time to time. These hybrid pears, while not blight-proof, are more immune to blight than the European varieties, and pear-breeders are hybridizing the two species with the hope of obtaining a variety with the fruit of the European type on a tree of the Oriental type. Several promising seedlings bred with this combination in view have been announced, and the number of these hybrids is certain to be increased as time goes on.
The advent of Russian pears in the United States must also be mentioned as a notable event in the history of this fruit. Russian pears are hardy strains of Pyrus communis grown from time immemorial in Russia. The fruits of these Russian varieties are low in quality, but the trees are much hardier than those of strains coming from more southern parts of Europe. Some seventy or eighty of these hardy pears have been imported from Russia, the first shipment coming in 1879 from St. Petersburg. For a few years importations followed rapidly, and fruit-growers in cold regions had high hopes of being able to grow pears in competition with growers in more favored regions. The fruits turned out to be so poor in quality and the trees so subject to blight, however, that the cultivation of all but a few varieties has ceased. Of the whole number, Bessemianka, possibly, is the only one worthy of comparison with the pears of southern Europe, and this sort is rated as poor where the southern pears are grown. Professor J. L. Budd, Ames, Iowa, and Charles Gibb, Montreal, Canada, were the two men most instrumental in bringing these pears to America.
The chief import of these brief records of the origin and history of cultivated pears in several countries is to show the evolution of this fruit. It is hoped that the chapter will furnish inspiration for further amelioration of the pear, and that it contains facts that will be helpful in the future development of this fruit. The men, times, and places have historical and narrative interest to pomologists; but these are quite secondary to the knowledge of what the raw material was from which our pear flora has been fashioned, and the methods of domestication that were employed. This chapter is only a sketch the briefest possible outline of how the leading types of pears came to be, and how and when they came to America.