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

Footnotes

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.

 

Growth Type: Annual

Color(s): yellow

Location at Monticello: West Lawn

Planting Conditions: Full Sun