Very Im­por­tant Plant

Garden News (UK) - - News -

The pop­u­lar­ity of pears is gen­er­ally over­shad­owed by that of ap­ples, yet it’ss a fruit steeped in his­tory with a di­ver­sity of va­ri­eties. The wild pear, Pyrus com­mu­nis, comes from cen­tral Europe, the Mediter­ranean through to Asia, and has been in cul­ti­va­tion for thou­sands of years.

Thehe pear we know in Eng­land is prob­a­bly a com­plex hy­brid from a num­ber of re­lated species and se­lec­tions, the ori­gins lost in the mists of time. Pears were cul­ti­vated by the Ro­mans, who ate them both un­ripe and ripe. They were ex­ten­sively grown in France and Bel­gium, where many va­ri­eties were bred, in­clud­ing ‘Wil­liams’Wil­liams’ Bon Chré­tien’, or Bartlett pear, the most widely-grown­grown va­ri­ety in the world, es­pe­cially in the USA.

In the UK there are a num­ber of his­tor­i­cal pear types, the perry pears found in Som­er­set, Glouces­ter­shire, Here­ford­shire and Worces­ter­shire, the juice from which is fer­mented to pro­duce the drink perry, which in re­cent years has be­come pop­u­lar once again. Then there are the hard ‘War­den’ or ‘Worces­ter Black’ pears, which are ma­hogany in tone. They can be stored for six months or more and were tra­di­tion­ally used in El­iz­a­bethan times for cook­ing rather than eat­ing.

Although nor­mally large, long-lived trees on their own roots, pear va­ri­eties grafted on dwarf­ing root­stocks, nor­mally quince, will re­main smaller, so are ideal for most gardens.

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