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Bartlett pear tree

Pyrus communis 'Bartlett'

Bartlett is one of the oldest English dessert pears, having been discovered in the late 18th century in England. Examples were soon taken to the USA and it quickly became the most widely-grown pear variety in North America.

If you buy canned pears, they are very likely to be this variety - because one of Bartlett's main weaknesses is that it bruises easily, so most production is canned. However bruising is not likely to be a concern for the backyard orchardist, and Bartlett is a good choice for a small pear orchard, with a very good flavor and fairly easy to grow.

Bartlett pear trees for sale

  • Large 1-year bare-root tree $34.25
    Mature height: 10ft-16ft after 10 years
    Semi-vigorous rootstock
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How to grow

Bartlett is usually a reliable cropper, and easy to grow in most climates, although susceptible to scab in mild damp climates and not tolerant of fireblight.

The pears should be picked just before they are ripe, and then left to ripen indoors.

Advice on fruit tree pollination.

Historical details

The fascinating origins of the Bartlett pear were recorded by the English fruit enthusiast Robert Hogg writing in the 19th century. He credited its discovery to either a Mr Wheeler or a Mr Stair, both schoolmasters in the town of Aldermaston, Berkshire, England some time before 1770. It was subsequently propagated by a nurseryman, Mr Williams of Turnham Green - who named it the Williams pear (perhaps to cut through the confusion surrounding its origins).

In 1799 trees were sent to the United States - a good demonstration of the close ties that already existed between England and the newly-independent United States. The imported Williams pear trees were planted in an orchard near Boston and came to the attention of a local nurseryman, Mr Bartlett, who played an important role in popularising the variety in the USA. It appears the original variety name was uncertain by this stage, so Bartlett (nicely repeating the decision of his English counterpart) decided to give it his own name.

In this way the new variety became known as Bartlett in North America and Williams in the UK and Europe.

Hogg suggests that the Bartlett pear was well suited to the climate of its new home, and was soon regarded as "the finest pear of its season". It became a major commercial variety in the USA.

Bartlett characteristics

  • Gardening skillAverage
  • Self-fertilityPartially self-fertile
  • Pollination group3
  • Pollinating othersAverage
  • PloidyDiploid
  • Bearing regularityRegular
  • Fruit bearingSpur-bearer
  • Picking seasonEarly
  • UsesEating fresh
  • CroppingGood
  • Keeping (of fruit)1 week
  • General resistancePoor
  • FireblightSome susceptibility
  • ScabSome susceptibility
  • Cold hardiness (USDA)(5) -20F / -29C
  • Summer maximum temperaturesCool ( 20-24C / 68-75F)Warm (25-30C / 76-85F)Cold (< 20C / 67F)
  • Country of originUnited Kingdom
  • Period of origin1750 - 1799
  • Fruit colorGreen - light
  • Fruit sizeAverage