Gardening Articles: Edibles :: Fruit & Nut Trees

Meet the Asian Pears (page 2 of 4)

by Kris Wetherbee

Paring Down the Choices

To help get you started, here's a rundown of popular varieties; all, except 'Chojuro', are well suited to home gardens. All produce round fruit and are Japanese varieties unless otherwise noted. Ripening dates are given for zone 8 and will vary from two to four weeks earlier in zone 9, and one to three weeks later in zones 5 to 7.

'Hosui', a rosy gold russeted medium to large fruit with tender, sweet white flesh, wins many taste surveys. Its rich flavor, brandy aroma, and low acidity are the reasons for its popularity. Fruit ripens early to mid-September and keeps up to two months. Susceptible to fire blight and bacterial canker.

'Kikusui' has delicate yellow-green skin with a delightful sweet-tart white flesh that's crisp and juicy. The very productive trees produce medium-sized fruits. Fruit ripens in early to mid-September and keeps very well, up to five months. Very susceptible to fire blight.

'Large Korean' produces enormous fruits (up to a pound) with bronze russeted skin and juicy, sweet white flesh with an unusual earthy flavor. The fruits, prized for both their size and flavor, are also sold as 'Dan Beh', 'Korean Giant', and 'Olympic'. Fruit ripens late, about mid-October, and keeps up to five months. Excellent resistance to fire blight.

'Seuri' has dark orange skin and delicious, crisp, fine white flesh with hints of apricot. The fruits of this Chinese variety are large, round, and sweet. It is a low-chill, early blooming variety that should be pollinated by 'Ya Li', another early bloomer. Fruit ripens late September to early October and keeps about one month. Trees are susceptible to fire blight skin with russet overtones and wonderful sweet yellow-white flesh that is richly flavored and subtly fruity. Fruit flavor is excellent, especially in hot climates. This variety is very productive and needs heavy thinning to produce large fruits. Fruit ripens in late September to early October and keeps two to three months. Very good resistance to fire blight.

'Shin Li' has medium smooth, yellowish green skin with russet spots. The firm white flesh is extremely flavorful and has a sweet and spicy, cinnamon-like aroma. The very productive trees yield large fruits like slightly flattened spheres. Fruit ripens in early to mid-October and keeps three to four months. Very susceptible to fire blight.

'Shinseiki' has smooth, moonlight yellow skin and delicately sweet, firm-textured juicy white flesh. The medium to large, faintly aromatic fruit is also sold as 'New Century'. Fruit ripens in late August and keeps three to five months. Moderate resistance to fire blight.

'Twentieth Century', also known as 'Nijisseiki', has thin, bright yellow-green skin with juicy-crisp white flesh. The mildly aromatic, very sweet fruit with a touch of tartness is the most widely grown variety worldwide. It is vigorous and reliably produces medium-sized fruits. Fruit ripens in late August and keeps three to five months. Susceptible to fire blight.

'Ya Li' is a popular pear-shaped Chinese variety with tender green skin and mildly tart flesh. This early-blooming variety requires another early bloomer (such as 'Seuri') for pollination. The trees are vigorous, productive, and hardy. Fruit ripens in early September and keeps up to five months. Moderately susceptible to fire blight.

'Yoinashi' is a golden brown-skinned variety with outstanding juicy, off-white flesh with crops of medium to large fruits. Fruit ripens in mid- to late September and keeps up to three months. Trees appear to resist bacterial canker but are very susceptible to fire blight.

Gardeners are also likely to encounter 'Chojuro', an older variety with astringent orange russeted skin and full-bodied, drier yellow-white flesh. Although it's still widely sold, it is now considered inferior. Under ideal conditions, which are difficult to pin down, trees yield good crops of medium-sized fruit that can vary in texture (smooth to grainy) and taste (rum-flavored to bitter) with each season. Fruit ripens mid- to late September and keeps up to five months but bruises easily. Moderate resistance to fire blight.

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