I was asked about Medlars after a recent blog where I had talked about them in one of the hedges at the Onny Meadows.
Medlar (Mespilus germanica) are thought to have been cultivated for over 3000 years but they certainly have since Roman times.
The Medlar is a small tree or shrub which is short lived and originates from Southwest Asia.
There was thought to be only one species until 1990 when another new species was found in North America.
The tree grows to about eight metres high.
It has greyish brown bark which has deep vertical cracks.
The leaves are dark green,with a hairy underside, which turn red in Autumn.
The flowers are white with five oval petals. Medlars are self pollinating with the help of bees.
The fruit is reddish brown about 2-3cms across with wide spreading sepals around what looks like a hollow central pit.
The botanical illustration above is from the original book source: Prof. Dr. Otto Wilhelm Thomé Flora von Deutschland, Österreich und der Schweiz 1885, Gera, Germany, and permission was granted to use under GFDL by Kurt Stueber.
The Medlar fruit can only be eaten after it has been bletted.
Bletting is the softening of fruit beyond ripening. Bletting brings about an increase of sugars and a decrease in acids and tannins.
So when to our eyes they look ready to eat when other fruits are they are not.
They are then left for a few more weeks until they look rotten and brown, then they are ready this will be in Winter.
Medlars are ready to eat when they can be spooned out.
I have to say they do not appeal to me but they apparently taste of apple sauce.