The Medieval

Mespilus is a small, deciduous tree in the family Rosaceae, closely related to pear (Pyrus) and hawthorn (Crataegus). Medlars have been cultivated since ancient times for their edible fruit which, as Alfred Rehder so delicately describes, "after incipient decay becomes soft and of agreeable acid taste." This after-ripening, known as bletting, is similar to the ripening process of American persimmon. Bletted fruit has flesh with the consistency and taste of apple butter.

The medlar tree blooms and bears fruit when very young. Often a newly grafted scion will produce flowers and fruit the year it is grafted. Medlars have been grown on Crataegus, Cydonia, Malus, and Pyrus rootstocks, and may have potential as a dwarfing rootstock for apples or pears.

The varieties grown today, including Nottingham and Royal, have been grown for many centuries. The Repository maintains 14 Mespilus germanica L. accessions including the cultivars Royal, Nottingham, Breda Giant, Giant Russian and several old selections from Italy.

J.Postman 11/95