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Author Topic: hybrids between quince, pear, and apple  (Read 1497 times)


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hybrids between quince, pear, and apple
« on: October 24, 2016, 06:11:33 PM »
Hybrid between Quince and Pear

In 1855 the nurseryman Louis Boisbunel in the Rouen region of France was successfully able to crossbred quince with pear. The resulting pear variety was named Passé Crassane, and was later used to breed many other fine tasting pear varieties. I actually have a Passé Crassane tree, by the way.

"...the passé-crassane, is actually a pear-quince hybrid that was developed in Normandy. It is particularly useful in cooking because of its firm, grainy flesh, but it is also tasty eaten raw."

The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth: The Surprising, Unbiased Truth about What You Should Eat and Why, by Jonny Bowden, p144

While I haven't actually got any fruit yet from my tree, from the pictures I've seen it certainly looks like it might be a hybrid from the shape and slightly more yellowish color (though there are plenty of pear varieties which are yellow).

Here is a picture of a Passe Crassane:

They can develop a much more yellow color if allowed to ripen further on the tree:

I found a random mention in a wine blog that stated "It smells like quinces and pears, especially the Passe-Crassane pear..." so I am assuming this implies that the Passe Crassane at least has a note of quince in its aroma.

I found this in another blog: "Finally, we get to the Passe Crassane – my all time favourite pear which comes into season in December – they are exquisite in mulled wine. They come from the Rouen region and retain the most juice and best flavour of all pears. Again location is key and, for me, these pears are always better from the Paris area than from the Alps. These pears ripen over time and the stems are sealed with a blob of wax so that they will continue to ripen and won’t dry out. It’s this that helps to keep the flavour and juiciness of the Passe Crassane pear all winter."

I have also done some research into grafting compatibilities, and Passe Crassane happens to be one of the few pear varieties that is considered compatible on quince rootstock, so that at least is consistent with it supposedly being a hybrid.

I have more to say on the variety Passe Crassane (and other pears that are descended from it) but I will elaborate further in a separate post.

Another documented pear-quince hybrid is "Pyronia veitchii", which can be mail ordered from some nurseries. There are even different established cultivars of this intergeneric species, like 'Luxemburgiana'. There's plenty of pictures on the internet.

Pyronia veitchii resulted from a cross between the pear 'Bergamotte Esperen' (seed-parent) and the Portugal quince (pollinator).
The cross was made in 1895 by hybridiser John Seden, who was employed by the Veitch family who ran the famous nursery in England that bears their name.

The famed plant breeder Luther Burbank had made an attempt at crossbreeding quince with pear, but most of the seedlings had stunted growth, and after grafting some cuttings onto an apple tree for a few years he was unable to obtain any fruit. (Luther Burbank: Methods and Discoveries 4: 138-140, (1914))

I found another old reference that describes a quince-pear hybrid that produced seedless fruit:

“The form of the fruit is unusual and characteristic, cylindrical, slightly longer than broad, with a short peduncle arising from a shallow cavity, the eye situated in a deep basin, open, the calyx lobes persistent. The skin is thick, rough, green or yellowish-green, abundantly covered with red dots like that of a pear. The flesh is white, granular, firm, juicy, sweet, slightly acidulous with an agreeable quince-like perfume. The season of ripening is October and November. The fruits which I have eaten were picked before they were fully ripe; the flesh was pleasantly flavored but firm as in a half-ripe pear. When cooked, the fruits seemed to be intermediate in character between a pear and a quince.

In 1915 an attempt was made to pollinate flowers of [this quince-pear hybrid] with pollen from various pears, but no fruits were obtained. I did not attempt to pollinate with quince pollen, though that might offer a better chance of success.

The character of the ovules, six in each locule, arranged in two series of three, one superposed upon the other, seems to bring [this hybrid] nearer to Cydonia (quince) than to Pyrus (pear).”

The Journal of Heredity (1916), Pyronia, article by Dr. L. Trabut, Botanist of the Government of Algeria

Hybrid between Quince and Apple

This picture was taken from a Czech site, from a breeding research program, with the title "Cydomalus" and caption "Malus domestica x Cydonia oblonga ".

"Slightly more than 50% of the F2 seedlings were found to be allotriploids (3x = 2n = 51), the rest were found to be tetraploids (4x = 2n = 68). Most of the allotriploids resembled quince morphologically. All these plants formed only single-flowered inflorescences and set mostly seedless quince-type fruits. About 15% of the allotriploids displayed apple-like characters and had seedless fruit with intermediate taste. Inflorescences of this group had up to five flowers, but the majority had two to three flowers. All allotriploids produced slightly viable pollen. Allotetraploid (4x = 2n = 68) hybrids position is intermediate between the diploids and triploids. It mainly consists of large pollen grains of probably diploid (2x = 34) genotype. The other part of pollen is smaller in size, maybe haploid (x = 17), but very small sterile grains also occurred. Germination percentage […] was close to 50%. Fruits were flat-rounded, yellow with dense pulp, containing normally developed seeds (up to 25), most which germinated well. "

The paper went on to say that for the F3 generation has been grown on its own roots but after 10 years of age they had not produced fruits. Not surprising, since genetic incompatibilities can often not show up until the third generation.

The paper gives a description of an apple-like triploid hybrid: “Fruits ripen at the end of June to July. The fruit weight varies from 120 to 320 g. Skin colour is yellow, sometimes a little pink on the sunny side. Flesh is yellowish, juicy, sour-sweet”

"Genotypic variation in apple × quince progenies", I.S. Rudenko and I.I. Rudenko. Progress in Temperate Fruit Breeding, Volume 1 of the series Developments in Plant Breeding, pp 229-233

Hybrid between Apple and Pear

In the 1980’s Max Zwintzscher was the first to report obtaining a fertile F2 plant from an F1 hybrid between Malus domestica and Pyrus communis. This was seen as a big breakthrough.

« Last Edit: October 24, 2016, 07:00:06 PM by SoCal2warm »


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Re: hybrids between quince, pear, and apple
« Reply #1 on: October 24, 2016, 06:20:02 PM »
found this entry in The Book of Pears, by Joan Morgan:
"Passe Crassane [...] In a warm seasaon and at best, exceptional for late Jan., Feb.
Very juicy, buttery, white flesh, sweet, tasting of pear-drops and highly perfumed, but in a poor year astringent, fails to develop in the English climate. Passe Crassane was France’s premier late variety until recent times, produced particularly for the luxury trade, and used to be sold with stems dipped in sealing wax to help reduce moisture loss during storage. In UK among the modern pears highlighted at 1885 London Pear Conference – one of the ‘most delicious pears known’ – but it needed a warm spot."

This same book also stated that Passe Crassane was a parent of Delsanne, which is now marketed as the popular variety "Goldember".

You know, this has got me thinking about whether Comice could possibly have some distant quince ancestor in its makeup. I read that they have developed a new winter pear variety called "Angelys", which supposedly could replace Passe Crasane. It resulted from a cross between Doyenné d’Hiver and Comice. And Comice is one of the pear varieties that is compatible on quince rootstock. Maybe hundreds of years ago some quince pollen pollinated a pear blossom without anyone realizing what had taken place. Doyenné d’Hiver (known in English as "Easter Beurre") definitely looks like it could have some quince genes, very round shape, skin is a pale yellowish color, structure of the seeds in the interior also seems reminiscent of quince. But all this speculation could be completely wrong.

The thought also crossed my mind, this could explain why Passe Crassane is so extremely susceptible to fire blight, any pear-quince hybrid that was able to grow successfully is likely to have a very compromised immune response.

I have just been eating a big bag full of fresh Comice pears i got at the fruit market. They have an exquisite flavor that stands out from all the other pear varieties I have tasted. Compared to other pears, the flesh is firm and dense... one could say a little like a quince! I'm not going to say the flavor is quince-like; the flavor is definitely pear, but it does seem to have some subtle notes in its aroma that are more reminiscent of the wonderful aroma of quince than any common pear. I wonder if there might be some ionones in the aroma, because one of the fragrance notes I can pick up on has this euphoric ethereal-like feel (like those old violet flavored candies). I don't know, could I just be drawing connections where none exist?

I read that Comice is supposedly more adaptable to lower-chill conditions than many other European pear varieties (though this is debatable, Gary Matsuoka of Laguna Hills Nursery stated he had only ever seen 1 crop in 25 years).

Assuming this is true, it would not be surprising. After a fair amount of research I have come to the suspicion that some European pear varieties may in fact have a quince ancestor. If you know anything about quince (Cydonia Oblonga), it is hard yellow fruit related to pear and apple, with a wonderful very fragrant aroma, but usually too hard, dense, and astringent to eat raw, so they are usually used in cooking. Quince is generally considered a lower-chill fruit than pear or apple, and was traditionally grown around the Mediterranean. Anyway, I believe it is the quince ancestor that gives some of these French pears their exquisite flavor, but these same pear varieties also tend to be a little bit hard, firm, and dense (perhaps a little like the fruit of a quince).

The French pear passé crassane is claimed to have resulted from a cross between quince and pear. This hybridization has made this pear variety parthenocarpic, meaning it can produce fruit that does not contain seeds, without being pollinized. Being a direct hybrid from quince, you can imagine that the pear is quite hard. It needs two months to ripen off the tree, but even then the texture is quite firm. But it does have unsurpassed flavor, appreciated by pear connoisseurs and aficionados. It is sometimes appreciated by expert chefs as well, and with just a slight amount of cooking it makes for superb dessert dishes.

While passé crassane is generally a rather obscure and hard to find pear variety in America, brief mention of it did appear in a 1992 L.A. Times article about pears growing in orchards of Julian, CA, (alternatively spelled Passe-Crassane), so I would imagine there are at least a few people growing it there. "Besides Julian's Apples, There Are the Pears"

The Arboreum Company nursery, located in Santa Clara County, also sells Passe Crassane, but they may not always have it in stock available to sell.

Passé crassane is extremely susceptible to fire blight, perhaps more so than any other pear, so I don't want to get anyone's hopes up who may live in a different part of the country. This will not be a problem in the dry climate of Southern California and the rest of the Southwest though.

The French used to export a huge amount of these pears to England and Germany, but because of fire blight issues the country later banned new plantings of this once-iconic variety. There are a small number of commercial plantings still being operated in Northern Italy, where they thrive in that climate.

Back on the topic of Quince and Apple hybrids again, I would also like to briefly make mention to the apple variety known as 'Cole's Quince'. Green to yellow in color, sometimes with a red blush, and the shape of the fruit can very lumpy, said to resemble quince in flavor and aroma. This apple variety originated in Maine and was first described in 1806. It might be within the realm of possibility that pollen carried from a quince tree was able to inadvertently pollenize an apple tree, and then against all odds the resulting hybrid seedling was able to grow into an apple tree.

It goes without saying that all these hybrids are incredibly rare, and under normal circumstances you can't just crossbreed between apple/pear/quince. Pear with Quince appears to be the least difficult combination of the three.
« Last Edit: October 24, 2016, 07:19:50 PM by SoCal2warm »


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Re: hybrids between quince, pear, and apple
« Reply #2 on: October 26, 2016, 04:57:40 AM »
Thank you for posting all this. Very interesting stories, I didn't know of the Passe Crassane, or any hybrids between the three species, but it is a fascinating subject. In my region in the Alps there are a lot of 80 to 100 year old pear trees that are grown for cooking and cider.

Looking for seeds of Eugenia Beaurepairiana


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Re: hybrids between quince, pear, and apple
« Reply #3 on: October 26, 2016, 11:39:06 PM »
Seconded, thank you for posting. I find the subject of hybridization in edible fruits fascinating. From the Rosaceae, I know there's also Sorbus X Pyrus, Sorbus X Aronia, Sorbus X Crataegus, Crataegus X Mespilus, and possibly other combinations, but I don't know much about them. So much potential! I hope people do further breeding work. There's only so much that scattered research stations can do with (sometimes) limited resources. We hobbyists should get in on the action. We may have more limitations, but any progress we can add to this line of research is a good thing. I'm between attempts in crossing (tropical) Raspberries, but I'm thinking bigger, further down the road.
« Last Edit: October 26, 2016, 11:53:39 PM by Caesar »


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Re: hybrids between quince, pear, and apple
« Reply #4 on: May 19, 2017, 03:14:31 PM »
Here's my little Passe Crassane:

The undersides of the leaves are slightly fuzzy, like on quince, and some light hairs surround the very outer edge of the leaves too, if one looks closely. The shape of the leaves also bear slightly more resemblance to quince than regular pear leaves would.

Passe Crassane is a naturally dwarfed pear variety, and the shape of the trunk and branch growth is a little twisted, again having resemblance to a quince tree.


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