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The Medlar

UK Garden Centre - Informoation about the Medlar tree

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Family Rosaceae
Mespilus germanica

The Medlar is a small tree, native of Iran, Asia Minor, and Greece, but which is generally held to occur in England and the Channel Islands only as an escape from cultivation. The theory is that the tree was introduced at some date prior to 1596 – when we have record of its being in cultivation here – and that the Medlar trees growing in the hedges of south and middle England are from seeds of these cultivated trees, which have been sown by birds, or more probably mammals who have eaten the fruit. The fact that it is not found in woods is taken as evidence that it is non-indigenous. Such evidence is not the most convincing, but it is the best available.
It should be noted, however, that the agents credited with its distribution along our hedgerows have free access to the woods, and that if these places were favourable to the growth of the Medlar, we should probably find it there, whether indigenous or not. Much more conclusive is its restricted distribution abroad, as already indicated. One would not expect to find a tree whose nearest home is Greece, leaping over the whole of Europe and appearing as a native of Britain.
In its wild condition the Medlar is a much-branched and spiny tree, from ten to twenty feet high, in these respects resembling the Hawthorn; but, like the Pear, it puts off its defences when cultivated.
Its leaves are large and undivided, of an oblong-lance shape, downy beneath, and sometimes with the edges very finely toothed.
The solitary white or pale pink flowers are about one and a half inches across, with a woolly calyx, whose five tips expand into leafy growths. They appear in May or June, and are succeeded by brown fruits, about an inch across, which may be described as round, with a depressed top, which is ornamented with the remains of the calyx-lobes. They ripen in October or November.


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