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fat/thick tips on pear branches going into dormancy

Posted by windfall_rob vt4 (My Page) on
Tue, Oct 30, 12 at 18:35

I have noticed on and off that sometimes my young pear trees will show a noticeable bulge or thickening at the tips of the branches going into dormancy.

It seems to be a very localized swelling just around the terminal bud, about doubling in diameter. And is most common on shoots that have shown good strong growth that year. I don't think I have observed it on any spindly side growth.

I don't think I have yet noticed a correlation to winter damage or spring growth change on the effected tips;but I have just started to pay attention to it as I have noticed more the last few years. I believe it is overgrown with the spring flush, as I cannot see remnants of it "down branch"

Any insight into what I am observing? Perfectly normal? Weather induced? Insect or disease related?

thanks for your thoughts

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: fat/thick tips on pear branches going into dormancy

They're known as "bourses" and are a normal part of pears- why they do that I have no idea (I usta think they were diseased and would cut them off) but they're just terminal fruit spurs and will bear again if left alone, if I understand correctly. "Bourse" is a term that includes much more than just those swollen buds, though, and I'm probably not using it correctly.

I imagine that "bourse" and "purse" are cognates, but haven't cracked the books to find out for sure. At any rate, they're OK.

Good luck,


RE: fat/thick tips on pear branches going into dormancy

Hi Windfall, I am so glad you asked that question it was on my list too. My young combo pear has the same thick tips on the main stems. 'Bourse' by the way is the French word for their Stock Exchange. (house of money trades). Mrs. G

RE: fat/thick tips on pear branches going into dormancy

Yes! "Bourse" -purse- money- good fruit-

Are we the only ones who see the connection here ... ?


no, make that TWO :-)'s

also one ;-)

RE: fat/thick tips on pear branches going into dormancy

I have seen several bourse buds and shoots on my Cortland apple tree. In my experience, these fattened buds called bourse buds are basically fruit buds that have also chosen to shoot out the next season, so they are super fat. In other words, next spring they will flower, and will also send out one or more shoots with many leaf buds plus another fruit bud at the tip of the bourse shoot. I figured I was getting this odd behavior on my Cortland because it is a tip-bearing variety, but I guess it can happen on all sorts of apples, and apparently happens a lot more on pears based on things I have read.

See page 43 of the following "useful link" for a picture of what your bourse will look like at the end of NEXT year's season.

Here is a link that might be useful: for Bourse Shoot Picture, go to Page 43

RE: fat/thick tips on pear branches going into dormancy

thanks for the info all, always reassuring to find "nothing to worry about".

I am surprised to see all the references to the bourses being fruit buds, as I have had little flowering from the pears yet (as expected) and would have said if asked that many or all that I had noticed had not been related to the blooms. But As said earlier, I have really just started to pay attention to their presence. Hopefully the large number I noticed this fall are an indicator that I may get some fruit set this spring...or at least the possibility weather willing.

I also find it interesting that the buds themselves appear normal, the swelling is present in the woody tissue immediately below.

RE: fat/thick tips on pear branches going into dormancy

Just wanted to thank dmtaylor that that link. It is an extremely clear guide to pruning with well done pics. I pruned back some long branches on my euro pears in July and was thrilled to see all the branches that resulted. Now I see that I might have delayed fruiting by another year. I think I need to read it several times as there is alot there, even if it is clear and easy to read.


Pam in cinti

RE: fat/thick tips on pear branches going into dormancy

I second Pam's post. I too will need to digest it more.

Any idea what the description of page 40 is?

RE: fat/thick tips on pear branches going into dormancy

They look like crude ladders for picking the fruit in the background. Mrs. G

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