Choke pear (plant)

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A choke pear or chocky-pear is an astringent fruit. It is (the fruit of) any variety of pear that has an astringent taste and that is difficult to swallow.[1][2]


One variety of choke pear is poire d'Angoisse, a variety of pear that was grown in Angoisse, a commune in the Arrondissement of Nontron in Dordogne, France, in the Middle Ages, which was hard, bad tasting, and almost impossible to eat raw.[3][4] In the words of L'Académie française, the pear is "si âpre et si revèche au goût qu'on a de la peine à l'avaler" ("so harsh and crabbed of taste that one can only with difficulty swallow it").[5] These qualities, and the common meaning of angoisse in French language ("anguish") apparently originated the French idiom avaler des poires d'angoisse ("swallow pears of Angoisse/anguish") meaning "to suffer great displeasures".[3] Possibly because of this idiom, the names "choke pear" and "pear of anguish" have been used for a gagging device allegedly used in Europe, sometime before the 17th century.[6]

Dalechamps has identified this with the species of pear that Pliny the Elder listed as "ampullaceum" in his Naturalis Historia.[7] It, like most sour-tasting pear cultivars, was most likely used to make perry.

Similar fruits[edit]

Similarly named trees with astringent fruits include the choke cherry (the common name for several species of cherry tree that grow in North America and whose fruits are small and bitter tasting: Prunus virginiana, Prunus demissa, and Prunus serotina) and the choke plum.[8][9][10][11]


  1. ^ John Ogilvie (1883). The Imperial Dictionary of the English Language. The Century co. p. 462. 
  2. ^ Abel Boyer and Nicholas Salmon (1821). Dictionnaire anglais-francais: Et Français-anglais. Tardieu-Denesle. p. 133. 
  3. ^ a b "Avaler des poires d'angoisse". Encyclopédie des Expressions (in French). 
  4. ^ Leopold V. Delisle (1965). Etudes Sur LA Condition De LA Classe Agricole Et L'Etat De L'Agriculture En Normandie Au Moyen Age (in French). Ayer Publishing. p. 501. ISBN 0-8337-0820-1. 
  5. ^ Pierre-Marie Quitard (1842). Dictionnaire étymologique (in French). Paris: P. Bertrand. p. 62. 
  6. ^ Francis Grose (1811). Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue; a.k.a. Lexicon Balatronicum, A Dictionary of Buckish Slang, University Wit and Pickpocket Eloquence. Pall-Mall, London. 
  7. ^ John Bostock and Henry Thomas Riley (1855). The Natural History of Pliny. London: Henry G. Bohn. p. 301. 
  8. ^ George Morley Story and W. J. Kirwin (1990). Dictionary of Newfoundland English. University of Toronto Press. p. 96. ISBN 0-8020-6819-7. 
  9. ^ John Lloyd Van Camp (1952). Fifty Trees of Canada, East of the Rockies. Book Society of Canada. pp. 26–28. 
  10. ^ Elijah Harry Criswell (1940). Lewis and Clark: linguistic pioneers. The University of Missouri. 
  11. ^ George Bishop Sudworth (1898). Check list of the forest trees of the United States: their names and ranges. G.P.O. pp. 76–77. 

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