Home Massachusetts The Endicott Pear Tree, Still Alive in Massachusetts After Nearly 400 Years

The Endicott Pear Tree, Still Alive in Massachusetts After Nearly 400 Years

It's the oldest living cultivated fruit tree in North America


Sometime around 1630, John Endecott planted a pear tree with the hope it would live for generations. He got his wish with the Endicott Pear Tree, believed the oldest living cultivated fruit tree in North America.

The Endicott Pear Tree

The tree survived harsh winters, hurricanes, earthquakes, grazing by cows, suburban sprawl and vandals. It was declared a national landmark in 2011. Clones from the Endicott Pear Tree have been planted in at least 17 states.

The Endicott Pear Tree was featured in a 1919 biography of trees called The Historic Trees of Massachusetts. Author James Raymond Simmons called it ‘one of the most quaint and strangely impressive of all the historic trees.’

John Endecott


John Endecott

Endecott (the name was changed later) scouted the New World with about 70 others who sailed aboard the Abigail in 1628, during the Great Migration of Puritans. He established a small settlement and called it ‘Salem,’ the Hebrew word for peace.

On July 3, 1632, the General Court of Massachusetts Bay granted Endecott 300 acres of land on “a necke of land lying about three miles from Salem” now known as Danversport, a section of Danvers.

The tree was planted sometime between 1630 and 1649. Endecott may have planted it first on his farm in Salem and then moved it to Danvers. He began cultivating a farm, with a cow barn, house and outbuildings. Endecott also owned the first sundial in America and introduced the ox-eye daisy to the colonies.

He also served as the first governor of Massachusetts until his death in 1665. A descendant, Endicott ‘Chub” Peabody, also served as governor of Massachusetts in 1963. People sometimes called the tree  The Governor’s Tree.

The Endicott Pear Tree

William Endicott with the Endicott Pear Tree, 1925

William Endicott with the Endicott Pear Tree, 1925

John Endecott planted the tree in the presence of his children and workers and said, “I hope the tree will love the soil of the old world and no doubt when we have gone the tree will still be alive,” according to Danvers historian Harriet Tapley.

In 1809, Salem diarist William Bentley sent pears from the Endicott Pear Tree to former President John Adams. Adams planted the seeds and wrote, “I have several young Endicotts … in my garden. They are very flourishing and if I can guard them from accident I hope they will be an ornament to this farm and a comfort to some good citizens 200 years hence.”

In 1904, the Boston Globe reported the tree bore fruit during the last season, although the pears were had ‘not of too pleasant flavor.’

A Worthy Shoot

Lucy Larcom wrote a poem to commemorate the Endicott Pear Tree for Arbor Day in 1890:

Who would not be proud to say
Of the deed he does to-day,
If it be a worthy shoot
From an honorable root,
That, when centuries had passed,
Bloom an fruitage still would last,–
Still a growing, breathing thing–
Autumn, with the heart of spring.

In 1964, vandals ripped off the limbs and jumped up and down on them, leaving two trunks five to six feet high. Several weeks later, shoots appeared and the tree grew again. A chain-link fence topped with barbed wire was erected to protect the tree. Later, a more attractive fence was built.

The Endicott Pear Tree, 1920

The Endicott Pear Tree, 1920

The farm passed down through generations of Endicotts. William Endicott posed in the 1925 photo above with the tree. Ultimately Osram Sylvania bought the farm, and today the land belongs to Massachusetts General Hospital/North Shore Center for Outpatient Care.

To learn about acquiring an Endicott Pear Tree, click here. This story was updated in 2023. 



Quinn June 3, 2016 - 6:09 pm

Very interesting article. One small question: wasn’t Winthrop the first Governor?

Leslie Landrigan December 21, 2016 - 7:58 am

Good question. Winthrop was the first governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony. William Bradford was the first governor of Plimoth Plantation.

PEndicott April 10, 2018 - 5:42 pm

Winthrop superceded John Endecott as Governor; Endicott was chosen as Governor in April of 1629; Winthrop did not arrive until 1630. See Mass. Register 1846, pp 37, 38

We Won't Go Until We Get Some: New England Colonial Christmas Traditions - New England Historical Society December 21, 2016 - 7:49 am

[…] as obliging as Hoare. But they did know 72-year-old John Rowden had made perry, a liquor made from pears. So they dropped in to pay him an unscheduled […]

Charles Francis Adams Remembers Two Presidents - New England Historical Society February 20, 2017 - 9:03 am

[…] He used to wander alone around the unkempt old farm, with a hatchet and saw in hand, pruning the pear and cherry trees and watching his seedlings. His grandson couldn’t imagine him […]

The Great Snow Hurricane of 1804 - New England Historical Society October 8, 2017 - 2:21 pm

[…] Endicott Pear Tree in Danvers, Mass. survived the storm, but the snow hurricane wiped out many orchards and sugar maple […]

The Legend of the Baldwin Apple - New England Historical Society October 9, 2017 - 8:30 am

[…] praised the Baldwin apple: “What the Concord is among grapes, what the Bartlett has been among pears, the Baldwin is among […]

How New Haven Became Part of Connecticut: It Was the Regicides - New England Historical Society July 5, 2019 - 6:50 am

[…] July 27, 1660, they arrived in Boston, where they knew Increase Mather and Daniel Gookin. Gov. John Endecott received them warmly. They thought themselves safe and lived openly in Cambridge, believing rumors […]

The Great September Gale of 1815 - New England Historical Society September 22, 2020 - 5:41 pm

[…] Danvers, Mass., the Endicott pear tree, planted by Gov. John Endecott around 1630, lost half its […]

Comments are closed.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest artciles from the New England Historical Society

Thanks for Signing Up!

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join Now and Get The Latest Articles. 

It's Free!

You have Successfully Subscribed!