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VENERABLE: A trio of Pyrus communis cider pears flourishing near a derelict stone farmhouse in central Victoria [October 8, 2017]

SPLENDID old pears in flower between Tooborac and Pastoria towards Victoria’s Central Highlands. These wonderful trees seem to be found where gold was sought and yield fruit for cider — known in England as perry and France as poiré. Their slender trunks belie great age: what is thought to be the oldest tree in our garden above Three Mile Creek south of Beechworth tops six metres in height, with a similar spread. Yet it has a fine trunk and is perhaps 150 years old. It is captivating in flower.

These pears, with their fruit inedible when fresh, are believed to descend from wild hybrids of the cultivated Pyrus communis sub-species communis and rare wild P. communis subsp. pyraster. The Royal Horticultural Society’s The Fruit Year Book 1958 devotes an entire chapter to perry history and cultivation. More of them should be grown for their extraordinary spring beauty.