This unusual vine from the Old World tropics has been cultivated for its edible fruits since the early 1700s.1 Bernard McMahon listed this species among “tender annual flowers” in his book.2 It is generally lumped with the balsam apple, but the balsam pear has a "shorter vine and longer fruit."3

The Balsam Pear is a tropical vine grown as a garden annual. Growing 12 to 15 feet high, it presents bright yellow flowers followed by curious, oblong, yellow-orange warty fruits that burst open when ripe; attractive, glossy green foliage. Prefers full sun to light shade and well-drained garden loam.

Further Sources


1. Lawrence D. Griffith, Flowers and Herbs of Early America (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2008), 28.

2. Bernard McMahon, The American Gardener's Calendar (Philadelphia: B. Graves, 1806), 609-10.

3. Denise Wiles Adams, Restoring American Gardens: An Encyclopedia of Heirloom Ornamental Plants, 1640-1940 (Portland, Oregon: Timber Press, 2004), 150. See also Griffith, 28-29.

Visit Monticello’s Online Shop to check for seeds or plants of Balsam Pear.

Typical Blooming Dates: August
Growth Type:
Blossom Color(s): Yellow
Location at Monticello: West Lawn
Planting Conditions: Full Sun


Featured in "A Rich Spot of Earth" June 2023 Podcast

Join Monticello's gardeners for a conversation on vining plants, self-sowing annuals, trees that flower in the summer, and weeds and what to do about them.