Monday, July 7, 2014

A Pear called Tennis Shoe

Lucky Pittman sent me a few pear scions in his last care package.  One of the pears is a variety called Tennis Shoe.

Mind you, it is not spelled "Tennis Shoe", but as best as my mid-Western phonics can noodle it out, it is pronounced "Tennis Shoe".  It is like that Cajun delicacy, Ouida Potatoes (pronounced Wee'-da potatoes).  I only know that 'cause I asked Pawpaw, my go-to guy for questions like that.


"Bill Adams, presently a retired Harris county (Tx) extension service agent, collected seeds from a pear butter project when he was working for the extension service and he and Tom LeRoy, another extension service agent who is now in the Conroe, Texas area, planted the seeds.  They had about 33 trees come up, and one had the flavor of a melting European pear with few grit cells and the crispness of an Asian pear; one of the best tasting pears I have eaten."  -Source

From there it fell into the hands of Dr. Ethan Natelson M.D. whose mission in life is to grow the world's highest quality pears in  Houston, Texas.  Heck, if it was easy it would have already been done.  The amazing thing is that Dr. Natelson is closing in on the prize.

He named the new pear after a combination of the momma tree (Tennessee) and the presumed pollen donor (Hosui).  Tennosui, pronounced Tennis Shoe.  In addition to excellent flavor and texture the cut flesh simply refuses to brown.  It stays as crispy white as a sheet of typing paper for days which makes it highly desirable for those fruit salads you take to picnics and such.

Other pears that Dr Natelson has grown in the Houston, Tx area and donated to the U.S. Agriculture Research Station) include the following cultivars.  The links will take you to the ARS page and there are some interesting "Narratives" or stories behind those varieties (Like Leona, for example).
  1. PI 449287 Pyrus communis Verbelu
  2. PI 617603 Pyrus communis Bartlett - Southern
  3. PI 617604 Pyrus communis Bartlett - Blakeley's
  4. PI 617605 Pyrus communis Bartlett - Low Chill from South Africa
  5. PI 617665 Pyrus communis Rising Star
  6. PI 617667 Pyrus communis Vaughn
  7. PI 617671 Pyrus communis Bartlett - Brown's
  8. CPYR 2527 Pyrus hybr. Turnbull Giant
  9. PI 617599 Pyrus hybr. Charles Harris
  10. PI 617600 Pyrus hybr. Leona
  11. PI 617601 Pyrus hybr. Tenn
  12. PI 617602 Pyrus hybr. Biscamp
  13. PI 617606 Pyrus hybr. Spalding
  14. PI 617659 Pyrus hybr. Broussard
  15. PI 617660 Pyrus hybr. Honey Dew
  16. PI 617661 Pyrus hybr. Thanksgiving
  17. PI 617662 Pyrus hybr. Oakhill
  18. PI 617666 Pyrus hybr. Florida 58-45
  19. PI 617668 Pyrus hybr. Emancipation
  20. PI 617669 Pyrus hybr. Baldwin
  21. PI 617670 Pyrus hybr. Pope
  22. PI 617672 Pyrus hybr. Quave
  23. PI 641287 Pyrus hybr. Acres Home
  24. PI 641288 Pyrus hybr. Louisiana Beauty
  25. PI 641289 Pyrus hybr. Bosarge
  26. PI 641290 Pyrus hybr. Vermilion
  27. PI 665750 Pyrus hybr. Tennosui
  28. PI 665751 Pyrus hybr. Southern King
  29. PI 665752 Pyrus hybr. Lemate
  30. PI 617663 Pyrus pyrifolia Shin Li
  31. PI 617664 Pyrus pyrifolia Henderson
  32. PI 617657 Pyrus spp. Higdon
  33. PI 617658 Pyrus spp. Fan-Stil


  1. Sooner or later the good doc is going to get it right... :-)

  2. You know, I think you are right.

    I rarely think of Texas as a place to grow pears. Prickly pears, yes. Pear the fruit...not so much.

    The French and Flems used pear seedlings extensively in their hedges because the juvenile trees are impressively thorny. From those millions of seedlings many excellent pears were selected.

    It is all about the number of times you throw the dice.

    Of course, today's focus is on no-thorns. We are more civilized now and having thorny trees that bear fruit make one vulnerable to "attractive nuisance" law suits. It is not just Red Rider BB guns that can take out an eye.

    Final note on hedging, hedges were "pleached". That is, the stems were cut about 2/3s the way through and the tops bent over. Sometimes vertical stakes were driven in and the tops were woven through them. Decent picture here

    The trunks will send up vertical suckers that "spear" the still living, bent over tops as the stakes rotted. Once in place, the stumps/trunks could be cut many times over the course of decades...even centuries. The constant cutting keeps much of the tree in a juvenile (thorny) state.

    Thanks for reading and thanks for commenting.