This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
This is one of the oldest, most widely known, and extensively cultivated Pears. Its importance in this country far exceeds that of any other variety, the largest Pear orchards in this State, and perhaps in the Union, being planted with it exclusively. The revenue derived from its sale in our markets amounts probably to as much as that of all other varieties combined. We need, therefore, offer no excuse for giving a portrait of it, even if it be well known to a large number of our readers. It can not be too well known, nor too highly prized.
In the Western States it is succeeding admirably, as far as we have heard of its being tested; and we have not the least doubt but that it will there become what it now is in Western New York - the most profitable and popular Pear for extensive culture. On the sea-board, for a long time it cracked, and was entirely worthless. Kenrick, 6ome twenty years ago, classed it among Pears of "indifferent quality;" but latterly the Boston and other eastern growers have produced it in the greatest perfection. At the shows of Worcester, Boston, and other places, for a year or two past, the contributions of this variety have been such as to excite general remark and admiration. This is partly owing to superior culture and management, and partly to the use of Quince stocks.
The name "White Doyenne" has been generally adopted since the publication of "Downing's Fruits and Fruit-Trees of America." Previous to that time it was known in New York as the Virgalieu, sometimes Vergaloo and Bergaloo. In the Eastern States it was known as the St. Micliael; in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, etc, the Butter Pear, Large Butter Fear, etc. In Coxe's work it is described under the name, "Yellow Butter, or Beurre Dorei, or St. Michael's Pear".
Mr. Floy, in his last edition of Lixdley's "Guide to the Orchard," published so late as 1846, describes the "New York Virgalieu" and gives the following synonyms: Williamson's Virgalieu, Virgalieu, Bergaloo, Surpasse Virgouleuse, Columbian Virgouleuse, Columbia, St. Michael. The White Doyenne he declares "beyond question" to be a distinct fruit, and goes on to describe minutely the difference between it and the "New York Virgalieu." If Mr. Floy had committed such errors twenty or thirty years ago, it would have been pardonable; but that he should do it in 1846, is certainly surprising. To make the White Doyenne and Virgalieu different, is bad enough; but to make this and Surpass Virgalieu and Columbia identical, is still worse, because these last named are totally distinct in season, appearance, quality, growth, and everything.
The common names in England, among nurserymen and cultivators, are White Beurre and White Butter Pear, and it is described in several English works under these names; but the London Horticultural Society has adopted White Doyenne, in their catalogue, and so has Rivers and others of the more intelligent nurserymen. In France it is known both as St. Michael, Beurre d'Oree, and Doyenne blanc. The latter name prevails in books and the more correct catalogues. Beurre blanc in France is a synonym of their "Bergamot d'ete" and our Summer Francreal. In Belgium it is variously called Beurre blanc and Doyenne blanc; and in Germany, Weisse Herbst Butterbirne (White Fall Butter Pear), and also Beurre blanc and Doyenne blanc, as in Belgium.
Fruit - variable, both in size and form, according to vigor of trees, stock, etc.: on young trees and on Quince stocks it is usually quite large; while on old trees or Pear stocks it is only medium or small. General form obovate; sometimes roundish, and sometimes considerably pyriform. Surface - pale yellow, becoming deeper and brighter when ripened in the dark; has frequently a blush or dash of bright red on the sunny side. Stalk - about half an inch long, variable, rather stout, slightly sunk. Calyx - small, shallow. Flesh - white, fine-grained, melting, buttery, rich, and delicious. The tree is an erect, handsome grower. Shoots - yellowish-brown, moderately vigorous. Succeeds well, and bears early and abundantly, both on Pear and Quince stock; on the latter stock it is said to do well in some localities where it fails on the Pear.
There are many trees through Western New York. receiving very little care. that are producing from twenty to thirty bushels of fruit, which commands in any market at least two dollars per bushel.
When desirable to retard its ripening to a late period, it should be gathered late, and ripened in a cool, dark room. In this way it can be kept in fine condition into the month of December, in localities as far or farther north than Rochester.