Bartlett (Williams) Pear

There are over 3,000 known pear varieties grown around the world.

When you say "pear" most people picture a yellow Bartlett. The Williams' Bon Chrétien pear is commonly called Williams pear in Europe and Bartlett pear in the U.S. It is the most commonly grown variety of pear in most countries outside Asia.

The Bartlett pear is a cultivar of the European pear. A cultivar is a cultivated plant that has been selected and given a unique name because of desired characteristics.

The European Pear (Pyrus communis) is a species of pear native to central and eastern Europe and southwest Asia. The European Pear is one of the most important fruits of temperate regions, it is the species from which most pear cultivars grown in Europe, North America and Australia are developed.

Major pear cultivars

In the United States, 95% of pear production came from 4 cultivars:

- 50% Williams' Bon Chrétien (England, ca. 1770; a summer pear commonly called Bartlett in the U.S. and Canada, and Williams elsewhere)
- 34% Beurre d'Anjou (France, a winter pear commonly called just d'Anjou)
- 10% Beurre Bosc (Also known as Kaiser Alexander, a winter pear commonly called just Bosc or Kaiser)
- 1% Doyenné du Comice (France, 1849; commonly called Comice pears)

8 varieties of pears, from left to right, Williams' Bon Chrétien (sold in the U.S. as Bartlett), 2 Red Bartlett varieties, d'Anjou, Bosc, Comice, Concorde, and Seckel. Image source: Wikipedia, Agyle, public domain.

In 1985s, the Bartlett pear represented 80% of U.S. pear production, which decreased to 50% in 2004, displaced by the d'Anjou and Bosc pears, both winter pears more tolerant of cold than the Bartlett.

Bartlett (Williams) Pear

The fruit has a bell shape which is considered the traditional pear shape in the west. The green skin turns yellow upon later ripening. However, a red-skinned variety of Bartlett pear exists.

It is considered a summer pear, not as tolerant of cold as d'Anjou and Bosc pear.

History of Bartlett pear

The pear is thought to date from 1760s from the yard of an Aldermaston, England schoolmaster named Mr. Stair, giving rise to the now-obscure synonyms Aldermaston pear and Stairs pear. A nurseryman named Williams later acquired the variety, and after introducing it to the rest of England, the pear became known as the Williams Pear. The pear's full name is Williams' Bon Chretien, or "Williams' good Christian." 

In 1799 several Williams trees were imported in the United States and planted on the grounds of a Massachusetts acquired by Enoch Bartlett. Unaware of the trees origin, Bartlett named the pears after himself and introduced the variety into the United States. 

It was not realized that Bartlett and Williams Pears were the same until 1828. There are 150 synonyms for the pear worldwide.

Physical description of Bartlett pear

The Bartlett pear exhibits the typical pyriform, "pear shape". They are aromatic pears considered to have the definitive "pear flavor".  Pear trees are in production for 50-75 years.

Canned or baked pear

Bartlett pear holds its shape well when baked. It is also the primary choice for canned halves, juice and nectar in the U.S.

When to pick Bartlett pear

The Bartlett pear is best when picked with the internal pressure of the pear is between 18 psi and 16 psi. 

Williams pear. Wikipedia.
European Pear. Wikipedia.
Yellow Bartlett. Pear Bureau Northwest.


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