Unique collection of pears to be planted

Monday 4th December 2017

Worcester Black Pear (c) Wade MuggletonWorcester Black Pear (c) Wade Muggleton

Volunteers at a popular Pershore nature reserve are planting a unique collection of Worcestershire pear trees.

Research and DNA testing by Worcestershire orchard expert Wade Muggleton and Paul Labous of Shuttleworth Agricultural College in Bedfordshire has shown that not all Worcester black pear trees are what they seem.

The two collaborated in 2015 and 2016 to try to discover whether the historic Bedford warden and the Worcester black were actually the same variety; some historic records suggested that this could be the case.

Harry Green, trustee of Worcestershire Wildlife Trust and volunteer reserve manager of Tiddesley Wood nature reserve on the outskirts of Pershore offered to start a collection of Worcester black and other warden pears in the orchard on the edge of the woodland. The trees, along with another Worcestershire variety, a Pitmaston duchess, will be planted on Wednesday 13th December.

Harry Green explained “The research undertaken by Wade and Paul has been fascinating. It appears likely that what we know as a Worcester black pear is but one of what were once a wider range of these cooking pears known as wardens.

“DNA testing has shown that not all the trees that we believe to be Worcester black pear trees actually are and their story is hidden in the mists of time.

“The orchard at Tiddesley already has a number of important trees in it. The Pershore yellow or egg plum, for example, was discovered in Tiddesley Wood itself in 1833 and we have several of them in the orchard.

“Creating a collection of these different pear varieties we believe is unique and it will be interesting to have them growing side by side. We’re delighted that Wade is donating four of the trees that he has grown/grafted personally and would like to thank the County Orchard Project for paying for the others.

“It is hoped in future that other culinary pears will be added to the collection.”

Fascinating world of pears

Tiddesley Wood orchard is managed for wildlife and is not accessible. There is a mix of old and recently planted trees to ensure a continuity of habitat for many years to come. The dead or decaying fruit trees provide a rich habitat for wildlife including the rare noble chafer beetle that is only found in three areas of the UK.

Worcester black pears (c) Wade MuggletonWade Muggleton commented “The world of pears is fascinating and a very under-studied subject; as little as 400 years ago there were far more varities of pear than apple so we have certainly lost many of these historic varieties.

“This detective work to find the origins of the Worcester black pear has been very interesting but I fear that it will forever be an incomplete story as too many parts of the puzzle are sadly missing.

“I’m looking forward to seeing the two different varieties growing together at Tiddesley Wood.”

Tagged with: Pear, Tiddesley Wood