Antique pear trees

klakos(8b (France))March 16, 2007


I'm taking informations about some varietes only findable in America but created in France during the XIXth.

A lot of them were exported to USA and loosed now in Europe : Duchesse de Brissac, Duhamel du Monceau, Lieutenant Poidevin...

So, is there are collectors ?

(excuse my english)

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bart1(6/7 Northern VA)
    Bookmark   March 16, 2007 at 10:56AM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

The two biggest collections I know of in the US include the government collection at ARS and the private collection of Nick Botner. You can search ARS via the link below. You can find Nick's address via Google and write for his list (he has no email). I checked my copy of his list for your three varieties you list, and none are on it.


Here is a link that might be useful: ARS/GRIN search

    Bookmark   March 16, 2007 at 11:11AM
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klakos(8b (France))

Thanks !

ARS/GRIN : I know this collection : they really have interesting varieties for us (all the europeans) but ...
(it's important to preserve them (fruits before 1900))

scottsmith : you have a beautiful collection of apples ;-)

I can't have a lot of trees because I'm leaving in a town (Angers), my garden is little, but I'm in an association "The apples crunchers". Here is the Anjou section. In "our" orchard we have nearly 300 apples varieties and a little more pears.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2007 at 1:23PM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Klakos, I know your "apple crunchers" group well, I have some publications produced by the group which describe many of the old French fruit varieties. I have an experimental plot with 50 different old French apples. Most of these are not known much at all in the US, it is the old English apples that are known the best here. These apples are just starting to fruit for me and I am looking forward to trying them.


    Bookmark   March 17, 2007 at 2:32PM
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klakos(8b (France))

Thanks for cultivating old french apples in your area. It's very interresting for us. We always want to have different cultivation datas.
I quickly see than you have "Bonne-Hotture" and "Fenouillet Gris" ("fenouil", => fennel in english because of its anisated flavour, Aromatic Russet is the english synonym) in your list. Here, we're in charge of these two varieties because they came from Anjou. So, your statements will really interest us.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2007 at 2:52PM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Thats interesting that you view Aromatic Russet as a synonym for Fennoulet Gris, the English authors don't seem to make that connection. I checked Morgan's book (modern English author) and it doesn't mention that. I also checked Downing (old US author) and he also made no connection. I will keep an eye on them to see if they are the same! So far neither has fruited but the Fennoulet Gris should fruit this coming year. The Aromatic Russet graft got eaten by the deer so it is still very small.

I am sure that many apples are still going by different names and I probably have two trees of several different varieties.

By the way, the method I used to pick which French apples to grow was to read through various French sources to find what appeared to be the most interesting ones. Probably half of those I could then find some source for in the US. The publications of the Croqueurs were very helpful for that. Still I am sure I missed some interesting ones.


    Bookmark   March 17, 2007 at 7:44PM
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klakos(8b (France))

André Leroy (THE french pomologist) said to see a book of Georges Lindley (1831 ?). I haven't it ;-)
Synonyms are the main problem of very old fruits like "Fenouillet Gris".
An important part of his "Dictionnary" is here :
I recently bought the volumes 5 and 6 (peaches, apricots and cherries).

Netherlands : (link at left :"Special collections" and "Historical Fruit Online" => Knopp & co)
Germany :

    Bookmark   March 17, 2007 at 10:44PM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Ah Leroy of course. I tried to buy Leroy at some point but it was more than $500 for only one volume! Thanks for the pointer to that online version, I will have to look through that as well as the other things you mention. For the US and English books there is a new electronic archive with many great fruit books. For example the famous Apples of New York is here:


Plus they have Downing, Coxe, and many other classic texts.

Hey they also have the Lindley book cited by Leroy (type Lindley into the search) - ! I looked and they have distinct listings for Aromatic Russet and Fenouillet Gris as two different apple, but in the latter listing they mention it is "sometimes" sold as Aromatic Russet. So it depends which Aromatic Russet I have ended up with.

Here they are, from the .txt version:

  1. AROMATIC RUSSET. Nursery Catalogues. But
    not of Hort. Soc. Cat. 1061.

Fruit middle-sized, a little conical, but flattened at both
the base and the crown. Eye small, a little depressed.
Stalk very short, deeply inserted. Skin green, covered with
a thin gray russet, and a little tinged with dull red on the
sunny side. Flesh greenish white, firm, crisp, but tender.
Juice saccharine and perfumed.

A dessert apple from November till February.

The wood of this tree is straight, rather slender ; and
when the young branches are vigorous, they are furnished
with spurs, somewhat in the manner of the Nonesuch. It
Is a very hardy sort, and an excellent bearer.


  1. FENOUILLET GRIS. Duhamel, 10. t 5.
    Anis. Ib.

Caraway Russet. Hort. Soc. Cat. No. 982.

Spice Apple. )

Brown Apple of Burnt Island. \ Ib. No. 1061.

Rook's-nest Apple,

Fruit rather small, roundish ovate, of a very regular out-
line, without any angles on its sides, about two inches and
a quarter in diameter at its base, and two inches deep.
Eye small, with narrow diverging segments, deeply sunk in
a narrow funnel-shaped basin. Stalk short, deeply sunk in
a funnel-shaped cavity, quite within the base. Skin yellow-
ish gray, covered with a thin russet, and very slightly tinged
with brown on the sunny side. Flesh yellowish white,
crisp, tender, with a saccharine and highly flavoured aro-
matic juice.

A desert apple from November till February.

This is a very neat French apple, and has been some
years in the London Nurseries, where it is often sold un-
der the name of Aromatic Russet. The tree is a rather
small grower, with slender, smooth, wiry branches, which
seldom produce any spurs upon those of the present year :
it is hardy, and a good bearer.


    Bookmark   March 18, 2007 at 11:44AM
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klakos(8b (France))

The Leroy's Dictionnary was recently republished. Here in France, you can by each volume 40-50 $. 180 $ for all. If you really want this books...
But there are on (not vol. 5 and 6), so...

Fenouillet Gris was adopt in England since a very long time. Differences between these variety and Aromatic Russet aren't surprising. You'll certainly see them (when your deer'll be eaten :-) )

    Bookmark   March 18, 2007 at 12:43PM
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This has been a really informative exchange; especially with the links.

I have about a dozen varieties that includes 8-10 of the older Pears that I multi-grafted last Spring on a couple trees, but don't have my list with me today near the computer. The ones that interest me are the summer early varieties and I had to really search those out.

I can't get Pears by the squirrels any longer than that to afford later ripening ones, nor do I have enough space for trees to satisfy every critters appetite first.

Usually fireblight is bad to pears here, but I've had excellent luck staving it off on just a few trees ~ the last 5 years with antibiotics.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2007 at 12:52PM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

If you like early pears make sure you have Bergamotte d'Ete, it is supposed to be very early. It is one of my many old pears I am waiting for fruit on. I think I finally see a few fruiting spurs on some trees so maybe I will have a pear or two this year.


    Bookmark   March 19, 2007 at 2:25PM
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klakos(8b (France))

I think, the most usefull link is certainly

In the south of France and Italy, there's the pear "De la St-Jean (San-Giovanni, this day is nearly the summer one (june 21th). I never taste it (I'll certainly introduce this tree in my garden), fruits seems to be so sweet and without a real skin... Of course, they can't be stocked. It's certainly one of european earliest pear.
One more time, this fruit "of character" is very old.

Bergamotte d'été seems not to be so early : end of august (Leroy), (extremely old pear (Le Lectier (1628) was the first to write about it).
"D'été" was added because "d'automne" existed. This last pear produced in november.

Bartlet ?

    Bookmark   March 19, 2007 at 3:05PM
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Interesting discussion here. It would be nice if you have some pictures of your antique pears/apples to post.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2007 at 5:11PM
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klakos(8b (France))

Pictures ?
When I'll understand how to post one :-)

Pear "Saint-Jean" : yes, I think. This pear is sometime commercialize.
Pear "Bergamotte d'été" : humm, it'll be hard ! Perhaps an old picture-lithographie of Poiteau or Turpin in the Duhamel book (this pear is absolutely not commercialize and common, I'm really happy to know it present on the american ground).

Here is a link that might be useful: Fenouillet gris

    Bookmark   March 20, 2007 at 12:39AM
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klakos(8b (France))

It's a test :

Amiré Johannet was the prior name of Saint-Jean.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2007 at 3:24AM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Here is a picture of Bergamotte e'Ete from the ARS/GRIN site -- it now has many wonderful pear pictures from the trees in their collection.

The Corvallis repository homepage is where you can get these pictures from.

The ARS site is also very handy for such things as ripening, etc. The link here is # of days to ripen for 500+ pears in their collection (click on the 460/753 to see the data for that year). Indeed it looks like there are quite a few ones earlier than Bergamotte d'Ete, the name fooled me and I was getting it mixed up in my head with my other small pear, the Petite Muscat. Botner has the Saint-John pear in his list so it is found in this country, but not in the ARS collection.


    Bookmark   March 20, 2007 at 1:45PM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Oops, the Saint-John is in fact in the ARS collection, here. The spelling is a bit off so my search had missed it. It is also listed in that study as being very early.


    Bookmark   March 20, 2007 at 1:54PM
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I have Doyenne de Juillet, Bella di Giugno, Citron de Carmes, Coscia, Morettini, Zaharoasa de Vara, Ubileen,

I'll have to get the list out for the others... We hastily became in the middle of moving, so potted two pears and grafted many of my scions to those two to transport last spring. They're now in the ground at the new place. The rest of the collection stayed at the old place and I've not had the stomach to go back and see what became of things.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2007 at 2:50PM
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klakos(8b (France))

An other interresting early pear is "André Desportes".
Leroy wrote that it was good but this pear was created by him ;-) I never taste it but this pear seems to be appreciate.
Corvallis (and some nurserers) propose it.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2007 at 4:47PM
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