Conservation Corner: The search for the Stacyville Pear Tree

Angie Wotton, Southern Aroostook Soil and Water Conservation District, Special to The County
6 years ago

We decided to take a little office road trip to celebrate the first day of summer. For a long while now I have wanted to search out the Stacyville Pear Tree. I have a couple of Stacyvilles in my own orchard and last year they provided us with copious amounts of pears. I thought it was time to find the source of this locally famous tree and dig into its history.

Since it was such a beautiful day, we took the scenic route — Route 2 into Island Falls and then Golden Ridge Road to Sherman Station. Crops were just beginning to break ground in the fields and home gardens were freshly tilled. Some old farms were going through renovations by new Amish families and we remarked on the scope of the barns.

Our first stop was at the Stacyville Town Office. The clerk indicated the general location of the tree on our map and provided us with landowner’s name for permission. Previously, the town had emailed me an article compiled by three residents a few years ago with some information on the pear tree. Little is known about its origin other than, “the tree has been there since anyone can remember.” What the writers did determine was that this original tree is 250 to 300 years old and is remarkably healthy for its age.

Helena Swiatek, a district conservationist with the Natural Resources Conservation Services, hugs the famous “Stacyville Pear Tree” during a recent quest to locate the tree in Stacyville.
(Courtesy of Angie Wotton)

It remains healthy despite a lightning hit years ago that left a partially hollow trunk. The Stacyville is a unique pear tree in that it is self-fruitful and an annual bearer. My personal disclaimer to the latter of that statement is that my tree was bountiful last year, but is not bearing this year. Maybe it will become an annual bearer. I certainly hope so!

When we arrived at the general location, we stopped alongside the road and gaped at the view of the mountains in front of us. Since the landowners weren’t home, we checked in with a neighbor and let her know that we would like to see the tree and take some photos. She pointed in the general direction and we set off. Across a small meadow, looming up along the field edge was a tree that at a glance could have been mistaken for a maple, due to its shape and magnificent size.

As we got closer we saw the beginnings of pears on branches too high to reach. Here it was. The tree that has allowed its scion wood to be grafted over and over and over so that a Stacyville Pear tree is available for sale through such gardening companies as Fedco Trees and St. Lawrence Nurseries. And in all likelihood, many of those began with this tree.

My favorite part of the residents’ article is their imagining of how the tree came to be in that particular spot. At 300 years old, it was here 125 years before Benedicta was founded. They surmise that the only people in the area at that time were Native Americans and French fur traders. Since pears have been grown for centuries in France, the guess is that a seed was planted by one of those fur traders long ago. The Stacyville Pear has weathered a lot of history but still stands strong.

On our trip back to the office, we took some photos of the mountain view and chanced upon a mama deer and her tiny fawn enjoying the sunshine in a field by the road. It felt like a gift. Looks like we need to take some office road trips more often.