“It must be confessed that, among all fruits in this place,
nature does not show anything so beautiful nor so noble as this pear.
It is pear that makes the greatest honor on the tables…”
This quote goes on, extolling the virtues of the pear. The speaker is Jean-Baptiste de La Quintinie, a lawyer and botanist, credited by some authors as being ultimately responsible for the gardens of the Palace of Versailles in the 17th Century. He was not the designer of the finished grounds, but a favored botanist, renowned gardener and loyal friend to French King Louis XIV; Jean-Baptiste was challenged by the king to cultivate three hectares of herbs, vegetables, and orchards for the king’s kitchen garden, Potager du Roi. Not at home in the Court of Versailles, Jean-Baptiste favored the company of his plants, fruit trees and botanical endeavors. His favorite fruit was the pear—probably the D’anjou, a pear favored for decades by the French.
According to G.J. Silva et al. (2014), archeological evidence of pears goes as far back as the Tertiary period of geologic time, specifically in Western China. This period of time spans 66 million to 2.6 million years ago.
From Western China, this pear, from the genus Pyrus, dispersed from northern Italy and Switzerland, Germany, Greece, Moldova, former Yugoslavia, Ukraine, Iran, Uzbekistan, and the Asian areas of Japan, Korea, Bhutan and to all of China.
Today’s pears are domesticated through a process that began over 6,000 years ago; it was by vegetative propagation that self-fertility of both pears and peaches resulted. At various time periods new pear trees were produced by the growth from a fragment of a parent plant or from a reproductive structure. So when people ask me, “Is it hard to find bee hives to pollinate your trees,” I just tell them that they have both male and female pear parts…so bees are not necessary.
Sources: Silva et al (2014); https://www.hindawi.com/journals/aag/2014/541097/tab3/
www. britanica.com>Fossils and Geologic Time