Medlar (Mespilus germanica) is a fruit you won’t likely see in the produce aisle of your local grocery. A mainstay of medieval French and English gardens, the medlar’s mere appearance suggests (and rightfully so) that it is something special. I was smitten the first time I saw the tree, which was on a walk through the University of Washington Arboretum in Seattle.
A well-behaved tree of small to moderate size, it delivers on all counts: flowers, fruit and fall foliage, much like another favorite of mine, the fruiting quince. The fruit hangs on the tree like nodding caramels, remaining well after leaf drop.
Pick the fruit after the fist big chill or frost as it needs to blet or soften before eating, otherwise it’s bit astringent, like an unripe fuyu persimmon. The pulp ripens to an almost applesauce consistency, and oddly enough that’s what it tastes like.
It’s funny little fruit, one that will never replace apple, pear or plum, but one that is much more entertaining when watching the uninitiated (and brave) take their first bite.
- Forgotten Flavors: Memories of Medlar
- Nursery sources: One Green World, Burnt Ridge Nursery
- Medlar Tree image (I will add a photo of mine when foilage returns.)
What I was blogging about one year ago:
It even looks medieval! And like it wants to eat YOU. Thanks for the intro to this curiosity.
Interesting – I’m bummed I missed the window to forage at the arboretum. I didn’t get enough rose hips either. Next year…
I ran into that name many times before while looking for the name of a fruit we adore in my home country (Lebanon) but that I saw totally neglected in the streets of Los Angeles when I first moved there. I thought it was medlar, but in fact it was loquat!
Joumana, what was the name of the fruit you adored in Lebanon?
Where did you find a Medlar tree in the University of Washington Arboretum? I live in the area and am considering planting a couple medlar trees in my yard. It would be great to be able to see the tree in person! Thanks for the information, happy gardening!
Jon, As I recall, the tree is on the west side of the street of Lake Washington Blvd E. just past Boyer Ave. E as you head north toward 520. The branches touch the ground like a huge shrub. Good luck!
And you may also consider plant fruiting quince, another small fruiting and flowering beauty: