A variety bred from an Asian Pear (probably the Sha Lea) by the experimental pomologist Jacob Garber in Columbia, Pennsylvania, in the late 1830s, the Garber Pear has the apple shape of Pyrus pyrifolia. It has been called the apple pear because of its crisp texture and the form of its fruit. It is medium sized, and has a good resistance to fire blight, a reason for its long residence in southern orchards. Indeed early in the 20th century only the Kiefer was considered a hardier pear. It ripens in August, so is reckoned a summer pear. Adherents of the buttery European varieties, such as pomoloist Ulysses P. Hedrick, found all of the Asian Pear hybrids (Kiefer, Le Conte, Sand, and Garber) inferior fruit, because of their harder texture. But in southern states, where pear were cooked as often as eaten raw, these pears enjoyed long lasting favor, particularly because of their vitality in the hot climate.
Hedrick offered the following description of the Garber’s fruit: “Ripe September to October; large, usually roundish-oblong and tapering toward both ends, stem 1 in. long, stout, obliquely set; cavity small, narrow, often deep and furrowed; calyx variable in size, partly open; lobes slend; basin broad, abrupt, deep, furrowed; color pale yellow, often with a brownish-red blush on the exposed cheek; dots small, numerous, russet; flesh white, granular, crisp but tender, juicy, neither sweet nor sour but with a peculiar, pleasant flavor; quality inferior” (The Pears of New York (1921), 2: 171-72). Despite Hedrick’s malediction, the Garber remains in cultivation, particularly in Texas and parts of the midwest. While not as popular as the Le Conte, Kiefer, or Sand Pear in much of the South, it had a modest following since the 1860s that continues to this day. A source for the stock is Bob Wells Nursery in Lindale, Texas: http://bobwellsnursery.com/index.php/fruit-trees/pear-trees/garber-pear.
Image: "U.S. Department of Agriculture Pomological Watercolor Collection. Rare and Special Collections, National Agricultural Library, Beltsville, MD 20705" Mary Daisy Arnold, 1935.
David S. Shields