Clapp's Favorite Pear CLAPP’S FAVORITE

Cold tolerance and early ripening made the Clapp’s Favorite a variety of immediate interest in New England, the region of the pear’s nativity, upon its introduction during the American Civil War. Though a seedling natural cross between the Flemish Beauty Pear and the Bartlett, early pomologists thought more resembled the Bartlett in its shape and coloration, for it was about four inches long, three wide, with an obovate pyramidal shape. The skin more resembled the Flemish Beauty, tending to be intensely yellow upon maturation, with redish marbling, and russet specks. The flesh was greenish-white, fine grained, and juicy. The flavor was “sprightly, refreshing, perfumed, and excellent” (“Clapp’s Favorite Pear,” New England Farmer 16, 5 (May 1864), 157). Like all summer pears the fruit was picked before full maturation, and kept several days in dark storage to mellow. The ideal moment to eat the fruit was difficult to ascertain from surface signs, and if left too long would suffer core rot, so a method of early picking and 8-10 day ripening period became standard for home users {M. G. Kains, “Apple and Pear Core Rot,” Ohio Farmer (July 20, 1899), 39).  

Bred by brothers F. & L. Clapp of Massachusetts its qualities were made public by Col. Marshall P.. Wilder of Dorchester, MA,, the pomologist who most promoted pears in mid-19th century America. It debuted in the American Pomological Society Exhibition of 1863, and won the premium of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society in 1869 as a valuable fruit of enduring worth. Its greatest commendation in the eyes of the earliest champsions of the variety was its maturation date 10 days before the Bartlett, making it the first find tasting pear of the season. It shared one liability with the Bartlett that would hinder its adoption in parts of the South, a vulnerability to Pear Blight.

 The southern nurseries that carried the Clapp’s Favorite Pear tended to be from the upper South and Appalachia. These include Spring Hill Nursery in Prospect, Virginia, Smith’s Nursery and Fruit Farm in Franklin, Tennessee, Silver Leaf Nursery in Boon’s Path, Virginia, A. F. Mosby’s Richmond Commercial Nursery in Virginia, W. T. Hood’s Old Dominion Nursery in Richmond, Virginia, Munson Nursery in Falls Church, Virginia, Moreland Nursery in Moreland, Georgia, Kentucky Nursery in Louisville, Fruitlands Nursery in Augusta, Georgia, Frederick Nursery in Frederick, Maryland. It is currently still available as orchard stock from several American dealers selling heirloom fruit trees.

Image: Image: U.S. Department of Agriculture Pomological Watercolor Collection. Rare and Special Collections, National Agricultural Library, Beltsville, MD 20705, Amanda Newton, 1913.

David S. Shields