Home Growing Fruit Tyson Pear: Portrait of an Heirloom Fruit

Tyson Pear: Portrait of an Heirloom Fruit

Tyson Pear: Portrait of an Heirloom Fruit


Tyson summer pear

The Tyson pear is summer’s answer to winter’s Comice.

I spent the first twenty-some years of my life eating but one pear: the Bartlett, first found canned, bobbing in a soup of syrupy sweetness, second as the only option in the grocery store produce aisle.  Years later, I discovered the many personalities and possibilities of the pear–the amazing array of shapes, sizes, flavors and purposes.

There are summer pears and there are winter pears.  Bartlett is a summer pear ripening on the tree or shortly after being picked. Winter pears, like Comice, Bosc or D’Anjou are picked firm, kept in cold storage and released to ripeness when left to their own devices at room temperature weeks or months later. But that is just the tip of the pyriform; there are hundreds of amazing pears to grow and eat.

After reading the description (found below) in the Fedco catalog , I was smitten with the Tyson pear. I bought some scion wood and grafted it to an older pear tree. The resulting harvest: a pear with creamy non-gritty texture, superb flavor and abundant juice. It reminded me of a perfectly ripe Comice, the pear that half of America waits for and knows as Harry & David’s Royal Riviera Pear around Christmas time. Lucky for us, Tyson  ripens months earlier, the first week of September in my Seattle garden (as seen in these photos). Now on Vashon, my newly planted Tyson is too young to produce, but I can assure you in a year or two I’ll be waiting with a plate of soft cheese and prosciutto the minute it yields to touch, and inevitably, my impatience.  

Tyson Pear ripe and ready to eat


Tyson Pear Summer. Jenkintown, PA, about 1794. The definitive 1921 text The Pears of New York calls Tyson’s flavor “second only to Seckel,” and says that the “tree is the most nearly perfect of any pear grown in America.” Medium-sized acute-pyriform deep dull-yellow fruit with some russeting and no blush is very juicy, sweet and aromatic. Local lore suggests Jonathan Tyson discovered it in a hedgerow on his farm west of Jenkintown, or maybe on the grounds of the Abington Friends’ school. Widely planted here in Maine for generations. Our scionwood comes from a huge spreading specimen in nearby Freedom. Well over 100 years old, the annually productive tree lived through all the great winters of the 20th century. Tolerant of bugs, disease and weather. Fire-blight resistant. Rare. Z4-6 (source: Fedco Trees, Tyson Pear)

Related read: Heirloom Pears by Sue Weaver

What I was blogging about a year ago: Moments for Pause & Put Down the Bottled Water, and No One Gets Hurt .


  1. I think I should buy a lottery ticket today, after locating you through your very clever comments on a Smitten Kitchen recipe that I make often. I love your writing style, humor, photos, and the fact that you obviously live in the moment and love your life and surroundings. Please keep it up. Thanks for sharing and making me happy!

  2. Eileen, I think you may be in luck as my source for the tree was in Maine, and if we go zonal the description said as low as zone 4. With your cooking skills and this pear’s flavor, your Friday night dinners will have a long –make that longer– waiting list.

    • Holy moly Bill! How cool is that! I tip my hat to your family for sharing this amazing pear variety. It really is an exceptional pear. And now I’m working getting the word out. Well wishes from the Pacific Northwest.

      • I’m a recent transplant (ahem) to Jenkintown, PA, and I’ve ordered a Tyson pear tree that should be arriving any day. I’m excited to plant it in its old hometown!

  3. My Dad had a pear tree where I grew up in south Alabama. It looked very close to the Tyson only bigger. Green color until ripe, then dull greenish yellow. No red. Not gritty at all, really sweet and juicy. We never knew what it was called. It was self pollinating as there was no other pear within 1/4 mile. The tree died and we have no young trees. Any ideas about it’s name would be greatly appreciated. Thanks


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