Showy Medlar, Mespilus germanica, Tree Seeds (Edible, Fall Color, Hardy)
Mespilus germanica, commonly known as Medlar, is a small, rounded, long-lived deciduous fruiting tree or large shrub that typically grows to 25 feet tall. It is native primarily to woodland and scrub areas from Southeastern Europe to Central Asia. The Medlar is closely related to the pear.
The leaves are dark green, toothed, oblong to lanceolate, 2 to 6 inches long, and 1 to 1.5 inches wide. The leaves turn a spectacular yellow to red in the fall. The showy five-petaled flowers, borne in late spring, are large (to 2 inches) and resemble single white roses fringed with pink.
The unusual fruit is an apple-shaped Pome with a flat-topped wide open calyx (or ‘eye’) that reveals the five seeded vessels. The fruits are about 1 inch in diameter and olive green ripens to dark orange and red/brown in late autumn. Medlars are self-fertile so they don’t need another tree for pollination and they can produce fruit by the second year.
Medlars ripen very much the same way as Persimmons.
Initially, the fruit is very hard, inedible and acidic, but they become edible after being softened by frost or naturally in storage given sufficient time. After being picked, the fruit is usually stored in a cool place until it becomes over-ripe with soft, mushy, sweetened pulp (a process known as bletting). Once softening begins, the skin rapidly takes a wrinkled texture, turns dark brown and the inside reduces to a consistency of apple sauce and the flavor is similar to that of a pear. Ripened fruit may be scooped out with a spoon and can be eaten fresh out of the hand. In addition to being eaten raw, the fruit can also be used for winemaking. They can be cooked and made into jelly very easily due to the high concentration of pectin in them.
The Medlar is a relatively slow-growing tree, which means that the wood is rather hard. In earlier days, this wood was used to make spear points, clubs, and fighting sticks for the hunt and for warfare. Later on, the wood was used for making parts of windmills, especially some of the turning wheels.
Genus name comes from Greek mesos (half) and pilos (ball) in reference to rounded fruit form. Notwithstanding the specific epithet, this tree is not considered to be native to Germany but may have been introduced there by the Romans.
Zone: 5 to 8 Growth Rate: Slow Plant Type: Long-lived deciduous fruiting tree or large shrub Family: Rosaceae Native Range: Europe, Asia Minor Height: 15 to 25 feet Spread: 15 to 20 feet Shape: Rounded
Bloom Time: June
Bloom Color: White to light pink
Sun: Full Sun to Part Shade Fall Color: Yellow to Red Drought Tolerance: High Water: Medium Maintenance: Low
Site Requirements /Soil Tolerances:
Best grown in moist, fertile loams in full sun to light shade. Medlars will grow in most types of soil as long as it is well drained. Site in locations protected from strong winds.
Medlars have light maintenance requirements. Water requirements are minimal even during the summer period and a light application of manure or a couple of light dressings of complete fertilizer in the spring is adequate in most soils.
Young trees are best if thinned and pruned to the desired shape. Established trees require little pruning other than the removal of dead or diseased wood and overcrowded branches. Fruit is borne on the tips of the main shoots and side-growths.