Mespilus germanica is a plant with a long history. It is known to have been around for over 3000 years and the fruit was commonly eaten from Roman through to Medieval times. Despite the name ‘germanica’ it is native to southwest Asia and southeast Europe. Widely grown in the UK, it has reportedly naturalised in southern parts where winters are milder.
Medlar is a distinctive, small tree which in ideal conditions can grow up to 8m though usually is smaller. Mature specimens can develop beautiful broad crowns formed into a natural umbrella.
It has long, leathery leaves which are hairy on the underside; the autumn colour is a brilliant golden yellow/brown. The self fertile flowers are simple with five white petals which open up in early summer.
The fruits (medlars) resemble a small apple with a hollow at one end. They are hard and bitter and can only eaten when they are bletted (softened), after a frost. There are few fruits that become edible in winter which is why they were popular historically (before modern storage facilities) and can be made into delicious preserves, medlar cheeses or jellies.
Ideally planted in a warm, sunny location on dry, slightly acidic soil, it will tolerate both heat and urban pollution.
This plant is available from Deepdale Trees as a multistem, standard or half standard plant.
Name: Mespilus germanica
Common Name: Medlar
Height: up to 5m
Demands: Warm location on a well drained, neutral—acidic soil
Foliage: Elongated, leathery leaves
Flower: Attractive white flower with yellow centre
Bark: Grey-brown, cracked with age and scales may fall off
Fruit: Apple shaped, brown fruits. Edible in winter
Mespilus germanica 2.5-3.0m multistems
Medlars on bare stems during winter
White medlar flowers are self fertile
Fruit and autumn foliage colour
18-20-25cm semi mature standards
Mespilus germanica half stem
2-3m multistems containerised at Deepdale Trees
Multistem specimens are often as wide as they are tall