A favorite southern variety in the antebellum period, coming ripe in the middle of August, the Flemish Beauty Pear possessed two great virtues: immense size and excellent taste. The pear could attained a circumferance of twelve inches under ideal conditions. It is obovate in shape. The skin is “a little rough, pale yellow with marblings and patches of light russet; the sunny side reddish brown at maturity” Southern Cultivator (February 1855), 70). The flesh is yellow white, very rich and sweet to the taste, but somewhat grainy in texture. The Bartlett with its finer grain and similar flavor would supplant it in southern orchards in the Reconstruction Era.

Not as productive as some old varieties, the Flemish Beauty performed best when planted on quince stocks. As its name suggests, the place of its nativity was Belgium, and it was listed in the stock of several of the great pomologists of the early republic, including William Prince on Long Island. Because of its cold tolerance, it became the leading market pear in upper New England and Canada in the nineteenth century. It grew well in the mountain regions of the South. It remains widely available from nurseries that handle heirloom material.

Image: "U.S. Department of Agriculture Pomological Watercolor Collection. Rare and Special Collections, National Agricultural Library, Beltsville, MD 20705" Louis C. C. Krieger, 1935. 

David S. Shields