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The Urbaniste Pear

The heirloom fruits are desirable plants for many reasons. When it comes to flavor and quality they’re in a class all their own. There are many kinds of old pears. Of those the Urbaniste is one of the most highly regarded.

Also called Des Urbanistes, this heirloom variety dates to the 1780’s. The tree was found in the garden of the Urbanistes monastery in Mechlin, Belgium, which explains the name. This was found after the order had been disbanded by the authorities. In the neglected garden fruit seedlings came up. This particular one was then introduced by a Belgian pomologist.

This tree was introduced to the U.S. during the early 1800’s. It was first grown by John Lowell in Roxbury, Massachusetts. This was highly recommended by A.J. Downing, author of Downing’s Fruits and Fruit Trees of America, published in 1849. According to Downing, this was a Flemish variety that was introduced by Count de Coloma of Malines and first arrived in the U.S. in 1823.

These are moderately to strong growing trees. They bear large reliable crops, especially as the tree gets older. This will grow in less fertile soil than the Doyenne. It takes some years to begin bearing. This does very well in the Mid-Atlantic. The young, upright shoots are yellow-gray with short joints.

The fruits are medium to large. These vary in shape somewhat from pear-shaped to round or pyramidal. They ripen late, and start ripening at the end of September. They can be stored until November. The smooth yellow skin can have russeting and a light brownish-red blush with streaks and dots. The stalk is an inch long.

Considered a superb dessert quality pear, this was described by A.P. Hedrick in Pears of New York, published in 1921, as “so sweet, rich, perfumed and luscious as to be a natural sweetmeat.” The flesh is mostly white though there can be yellow tinges, especially at the core. Though it is smooth and fairly fine texture, there can be some graininess near the core. The flesh is buttery, tender, juicy, and melting. It has a delicious flavor comparable to Doyenne. This also has a wonder

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