The origins of the Palmischbirne are unknown, but it is clearly a very old pear variety, having been described by the Swiss botanist Johann Bauhin in 1598. It is also known as Böhmische Birne (Bohemian pear), Bäumschbirne (tree pear), Mädlesbirne (girl’s pear), and Schwabenbirne (Swabian pear). The Palmischbirne used to be common in southern Germany, especially in the Württemberg region, and also in Switzerland and Austria. Today it has become very rare.
This variety makes a delicious pear brandy with characteristic, strong aroma. It is also suitable for drying or turning into preserves. Due to its high sugar content, the Palmischbirne is often processed as must, which in turn is often added to cider to refine its flavor.
The Palmischbirne flowers early and ripens between early and mid-September. Its yields are large and consistent. The fruits are small and truncated and have a long, shiny stem. They turn yellow as they ripen and are often completely covered with golden rust, and have characteristic large lenticels. The flesh is whitish-yellow, medium firm, and coarse, and becomes “soupy” relatively quickly–only the thickness of the skin prevents bursting. The Palmischbirne is sweet and tangy, somewhat spicy, and not too tannic. It has a sugar content of about 16.5%. This variety is undemanding in relation to its location and was often planted on dry mudstone soils in the past. It is not susceptible to disease and is largely resistant to the dreaded fire blight.
Palmischbirne trees are robust with an oak-like habit and can reach an old age. The trees are considered to be characteristic of the landscape where they traditionally grow. The Palmischbirne is no longer common in the remaining orchards of Württemberg, as it has rarely been replanted in recent decades. Due to the declining use of pears for making beverages in Württemberg, this variety has lost its importance. In addition, collecting the fruits is very time consuming due to their small size. Harvest should be done manually, not mechanically, in order to avoid damaging the small pears—further processing depends on the fresh fruit being of high quality.