Colin Mills, compiler of the Hortus Camdenensis, died in late November 2012 after a short illness. As he always considered the Hortus his legacy, it is his family's intention to keep the site running in perpetuity. It will not, however, be updated in the near future.

Pyrus communis ‘Beurré Léon Leclerc’

‘Fruit medium sized, obovate. Skin smooth, of a lemon-yellow colour, having a tinge of red on one side, and covered with numerous large russet specks. Eye very small and open, set in a narrow and deep basin. Stalk an inch long, inserted in an uneven and rather deep cavity. Flesh white, melting and juicy, sweet and well flavoured, but without any particular aroma. End of October.’ [Hogg – Fruit Manual p.165/1860].



Horticultural & Botanical History

The description given by Hogg is of a pear known by him as ‘Beurré Léon Le Clerc’. I have found only one other reference to such a pear. Loudon lists ‘Beurré Léon Leclerc’ under Dessert Pears in Season from September to January, with no further elucidation. [The Horticulturist vol.3 - J.C.Loudon, edited by William Robinson/1871].

Pears of New York gives a description and history for ‘Beurré de Mortefontaine’, a synonym of ‘Beurré Léon Leclerc’ given by Hogg. ‘Obtained from seed about 1804 by M. Lefèvre, a Frenchman. It is quite probable that this is identical with Beurre Le Fèvre, although slight differences appear in the descriptions. Fruit large, often very large, globular-turbinate or spherical, generally irregular; skin rough, bronze, sprinkled with large, scaly dots of gray, and with brick-red stains on the cheek next the sun; flesh greenish-white, coarse, semi-breaking, doughy, very gritty around the core; juice deficient, acidulous, vinous; third for dessert, second for kitchen; end of Aug. and early Sept.’ [Pears of New York p.301]. This is clearly a different pear to that described by Hogg. This pear is described and figured in Decaisne’s Le Jardin Fruitier du Muséum under the name ‘Lefèvre’. [JFM t.III/1860].

As a further complication Pears of New York provides information on three pears that bear the name of the French Pomologist Léon Leclerc. ‘This pear [Van Mons Léon Leclerc, which see] was obtained by M. Léon Leclerc, a distinguished pomologist living at Laval, France, who dedicated it to his friend Van Mons. Desiring to couple his own name with that of his friend, he gave it the name of Van Mons Léon Leclerc, by which appellation it has been known by most authors. The variety first fruited in 1828. There has been a good deal of confusion as to the identity of this pear, owing to the fact that Van Mons raised a pear in 1816 which he dedicated to Léon Leclerc. The proper name of the latter pear is Léon Leclerc de Laval, [which see]. There is also a Leon Léclerc de Louvain.’ [Pears of New York p.190]. Leroy adds a fourth to the list, ‘Léon Leclerc Épineux’ [Leroy - Dictionnaire de Pomologie vol.2, p.333/1869].

At this stage I cannot be sure of the identity of Macarthur’s ‘Beurré Léon le Clerc’. Pears of New York indicates that the three pears listed there are distinct, and, in the absence of data to the contrary, I must assume that ‘Léon Leclerc Épineux’ and ‘Beurré Léon Leclerc’ are also distinct varieties. Accordingly the description of Hogg must stand. See also ‘Van Mons Léon Leclerc’.

‘Van Mons Léon Leclerc’ is figured in the Herefordshire Pomona, described as ‘a very fine pear, of great excellence and often of large size’ [HP pl.LXVIII/1878], and  a pear simply called ‘Léon Leclerc’ is figured in Le Jardin Fruitier du Muséum.



History at Camden Park

Listed only in the 1857 catalogue in an Addendum as ‘Beurré Leon le Clerc’ [Pear no.42/1857]. In a copy of the 1857 catalogue the number ‘42’ is changed to ‘45’ and this aligns with the diary numbering. ‘45.  In every respect first rate.’ [Diary B, MP A2951/1862]. Obtained from Veitch’s Nursery, probably the original Exeter premises.

See also ‘Van Mons Léon Leclerc’ and ‘Léon Leclerc de Laval’.




Published May 19, 2010 - 04:38 PM | Last updated Jul 22, 2011 - 01:47 PM

Family Rosaceae
Region of origin

Garden origin, France

  • (possibly) Beurré de Mortefontaine


Common Name

Dessert Pear, autumn

Name in the Camden Park Record

Beurré Leon le Clerc 



Confidence level medium