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Pear

After grapevines, pears run a close second as the most common espalier fruit. Undemanding pear varieties  can be espaliered (on sunny walls) in climates where pears wouldn't thrive otherwise- like high altitudes or in colder climates. In milder climates-- areas where fruit-growing or even viticulture is practised,-- particularly high-quality pears (which would otherwise only grown in southern countries or not traded at all because of sensitivity to transport) can be espaliered.  If "winter pears" are selected as espalier fruit- a cold, moist storage area must also be available to ripen the fruit... 

Latin: pyrus communis

Winter-pear on a wooden trellis

Requirements / Source of Supply

The soil should be deep and warm, the wall or facade facing south or west. In urban residential areas with ornamental juniper trees, there is a risk of pear trellis rust. Pear rust is a fungus that uses the juniper as an intermediate host. It limits the assimilation capacity of the affected leaves, but does not afflict the fruits. Aesthetically, this fungus is a deathblow for a pear trellis. Already pruned pear espalier trees are available at local nurseries or via online stores.

Characteristics and Pruning

When cultivated on an espalier, pear is treated as a tree formed by shaping/pruning (all espaliered fruit is classified as such). Pears are not self-fertile. The presence of simultaneously-flowering pollinator varieties in the neighborhood (at least within 200 meters) is therefore important. There is information available online to find wich cultivars are suitable as pollinators ("pollen dispensers") for a given pear cultivar. This is especially important outside of arboriculture areas. Another difficulty is the different flowering times of different cultivars, and the fact that espalier fruits that are grown next to a wall or a facade are flowering much earlier than the intended flower dispenser in the field. Having several other varieties in the area is certainly a good way to reduce the risk of incompatibility / infertility.

 

Pruning is also carried out on a variety-specific basis. There are many good instructions available in the literature or online, which describe exactly where the cultivar will bear fruit and how it must be pruned. When purchasing a tree, care must be taken that it has been grafted correctly and that they are specifically sold as espalier trees. Some tree nurseries even provide trees with a double graft so that fertilisation is assured (that is, that allow the flowers of the same plant to pollinate each other).

Climbing Supports for Pear

See the table below for all suitable trellis shapes (wire rope systems). For an optimal distance between the tree and the facade, choose a trellis in the heavy or massive range; a system in the middle or easy ranges is also possible. Pear espalier trees can be grown on a wooden trellis. In free-standing positions, use a 0050 trellis.

 

Pears can easily be pruned into various shapes with the support of climbing aids-- either with several horizontal levels, with vertical "U" shapes, or with angled "palette shapes." To reduce maintenance efforts, there was a trend from 1950 on to move away from strict shapes to nearly natural free "fan" shapes. Since two decades, tree nurseries provide already pruned and formed trees at affordable prices, which has led to a renaissance of traditional espalier shapes. The wire rope trellis form must be adapted to the tree it supports. Free shapes require simpler trellises.

 

As described on the page dedicated to formed trees, pear espalier trees need trellises where the main axes are spaced 35 - 40 cm apart. Wire rope trellises that are designed as square grids must be modified accordingly during assembly.

Suitable wire rope trellises

Click on the image to find a suitable facade trellis design.

Small pear tree
Espalier pear on a protected historical ('monument') building
Espalier fruit grown on the facade of an old half-timbered house - the cultivar is probably "Josephine von Mecheln". Kohren-Salis / Saxe
Pear espalier tree on a wire rope trellis right before the harvest

Training (pruning) forms and climbing systems

This gallery features pictures that detail the pruning of the pear trees as well as trellises for espalier pear trees.

Simple "U" shape on a grapevine trellis with horizontal wires
Vertical branches - pear tree with double "U" shaped branches - horizontal wires and cables (similar to wire rope trellis 8010)
Pear tree as a horizontal or vertical espalier fruit tree
Six-armed Verrier Palmette on a horizontal wire rope trellis
In earlier times espalier structures were built by tensioning horizontal wires between bamboo sticks.
Flowering espalier tree pruned to an irregular fan shape; historical picture.
And so it begins: planting a grafted pear tree with a protection against rabbits.
Six years later: the pear (to the left) has been bound with a wire rope trellis system from FassadenGrün, pruned to a "free shape," and is overflowing with fruit; situated next to two other trees.
Small pear espalier pruned to a vertical shape
Pear tree trained with a single vertical axis, winter photo
Pear espalier tree trained to a "U" shape and bound to a wire rope trellis from our "Heavy" range.
This espalier pear is horizontally trained.
Espalier pear tree pruned to a mainly horizontal shape on a 1030 wire rope trellis
Espalier tree on a horizontal wire rope trellis from our medium "classic" range of trellises
Espalier tree with a high trunk, trained by a tree nursery into a horizontal fan shape
Large pear espalier tree in a free form, Kohren-Salis / Saxony
The same fruit tree espalier in spring during flowering
 

Pears as espalier trees

Even if the trees that are 'perfectly' (geometrically) formed often 'do their own thing' in later years. See here examples of decades-old espalier trees...

Old espalier pear pruned to a fan-shape. Ludwigsstadt / Bayern
Pear espalier with three trees
Pear espalier
Very old espaliered pear in a free fan shape in the front yard of Castle Dornburg / Thuringia
Pear as espalier fruit; Piesteritz / Saxony-Anhalt
Wall greened with a pear espalier; Rochlitz / Saxony
This espaliered pear has been grown so as to reach up to the electrical wiring.
Two pear espalier trees with autumn foliage
Old pear espalier in winter (see summer photo on this page); Kohren-Salis / Saxony
These four house pears are grown on our 1010 wire rope trellis on a facade.
Who wouldn't want to dwell here in the soothing shade for a while? This pear was originally grown as an espalier, but lost its shape due to poor grafting and has grown to a full tree.
This pear has not been grafted and lost its shape, developing a large trunk.

Suitable wire rope trellises for pear

Please click on the graphics to see a detailed view of each design!

= suitable       = sometimes suitable     = not suitable