Mespilus germanica (Medlar, Showy Mespilus) is a deciduous fruit tree belonging to the Rosaceae family. It is native to Europe and Southwest Asia. The medlar tree is a small to medium-sized tree that typically grows to a height of 15 to 30 feet (4.5 to 9 meters). It has a rounded crown and a relatively short trunk. The tree has an open, spreading habit with angular branches. The bark is brown and becomes rougher as the tree ages.
Leaves: The medlar tree has simple, elliptical-shaped leaves with serrated edges. The leaves are about 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 centimeters) long and have a dark green color. In autumn, they may turn shades of yellow or reddish-brown before falling.
Flowers: The medlar tree produces small, five-petaled flowers in late spring. The flowers are white or cream-colored and have a delicate appearance. They are often solitary or occur in small clusters. The blooms have a pleasant fragrance and are attractive to bees and other pollinators.
Fruits: The medlar tree is primarily cultivated for its unique fruits, known as medlars. The fruit resembles a small russet apple with a flattened bottom. It is typically about 1 to 2 inches (2.5 to 5 centimeters) in diameter. Medlars are initially hard and astringent when picked but require a process called "bletting" to soften and develop their flavor. Bletting involves allowing the fruits to ripen and partially decay, which transforms the flesh into a soft, sweet, and custard-like consistency. The flavor is often described as a combination of apple, pear, and dates.
Landscape Use: The medlar tree is valued for its ornamental qualities, especially when it is in bloom or when its fruits are visible. It can be grown as a standalone specimen tree in gardens or used in mixed borders and orchards. The unique shape and color of the fruit add interest to the landscape.
Growing Conditions: Medlar trees prefer full sun to partial shade and well-drained soil. They can tolerate a range of soil types, including clay and sandy soils. Medlars are relatively hardy and can withstand cool temperatures, making them suitable for cultivation in temperate climates.
The medlar tree (Mespilus germanica) is a unique and interesting fruit tree that offers ornamental beauty as well as culinary value. Its attractive flowers, distinctive fruit, and historical significance make it a fascinating addition to gardens, orchards, and landscapes.