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Kieffer pear

Pyrus communis

Kieffer is a well-known American pear variety, introduced by Peter Kieffer of Philadelphia in the second half of the 10th century.

It has an unusual ancestry, being probably a seedling of a Chinese pear (Pyrus prunifolia) crossed with the widely-grown European pear (Pyrus communis) Barlett. Although in most respects it can be considered a European pear, the crisp coarse flesh hints at the Chinese ancestry.

Kieffer inherits the heavy-cropping nature of Bartlett, but ripens much later.

Kieffer quickly established itself as a major commercial variety in the eastern and southern states. Like Bartlett it was ideal for processing and canning. It is perhaps not as successful for eating fresh.

The oriental ancestry might also explain another of its key features - Kieffer has a legendary reputation for resistance to fireblight, a disease that arose in the eastern states in the 18th and 19th centuries and devastated pear orchards.

Kieffer has a very wide climate range and is equally at home in the northern or southern states.

Kieffer pear identification images

All images copyright Orange Pippin unless otherwise stated.

  • Kieffer
  • Kieffer

USDA identification images for Kieffer

The identification paintings in the USDA Pomological Watercolor Collection span the years 1886 to 1942.

  • USDA watercolor image of Pyrus communis: Kieffer
  • USDA watercolor image of Pyrus communis: Kieffer
  • USDA watercolor image of Pyrus communis: Kieffer
  • USDA watercolor image of Pyrus communis: Kieffer
  • USDA watercolor image of Pyrus communis: Kieffer
  • USDA watercolor image of Pyrus communis: Kieffer

Citation: U.S. Department of Agriculture Pomological Watercolor Collection. Rare and Special Collections, National Agricultural Library, Beltsville, MD 20705.

Parents and other ancestors of this variety

Visitor reviews

  • 15 Jan 2019  PA, United States
    Great pear for home orchards or beginners. Requires almost zero work in my area, but I have had a scare with fireblight in the past where we had to cut off a few limbs. Course flesh with a spicy flavor. I use it most often to make Pear preserves which this variety is great for. It has a tough, thick skin which mostly keeps away the insects unless you leave the fruit on the tree too long. Ripe for harvest around late September or early October in my area.

Tree register

United States

Spring blossom records for this variety

2021 season

  • 28th April  2021  - tree owned by Joel in Gardners, United States

Record your blossom dates in our Fruit Tree Register - more >>.


  • Species: Pyrus communis - Pear
  • Parentage: Bartlett x Chinese sand pear
  • Originates from: Philadelphia, United States
  • Introduced: 1850s
  • Developed by: Peter Kieffer, Philadelphia


  • Country of origin: United States
  • Period of origin: 1850 - 1899
  • Fruit colour: Green - light
  • Fruit colour: Green / Yellow
  • Annual cycle: Deciduous
  • Flesh colour: Cream
  • Fruit size: Large


  • Picking season: Late
  • Keeping (of fruit): 2-3 weeks
  • Flavour quality: Good
  • Cropping: Heavy
  • Food uses: Eating fresh
  • Food uses: Culinary
  • Food uses: Dual purpose
  • Picking month: October
  • Picking period: early October
  • Wildlife: RHS Plants for Pollinators


  • Gardening skill: Average
  • Flowering group: 2
  • Pollinating others: Average
  • Ploidy: Diploid
  • Vigour: Slightly small
  • Fruit bearing: Spur-bearer
  • Self-fertility: Partially self-fertile
  • Sunlight: Prefers full sun


  • Summer average maximum temperatures: Warm (25-30C / 76-85F)

Other qualities

  • Disease resistance: Average
  • Fire blight: Very resistant

Where to buy fresh fruit

No orchards have registered as growing this variety. If you grow this and want to register please go to our Orchard Registration form.


  • The Book of Pears (2015)
    Author: Morgan

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