Unusual & Old Fashioned Fruit Trees


The Medlar Tree - Mespilus Germanica.

Medlars are not a native tree and will not be found growing in the wild in Great Britain unless they have been deliberately planted at some time, as in a garden that may have gone wild, or on other land that was cultivated in some way, such as, a disused park, or part of an old estate. They grow naturally round the Mediterranean areas of Europe, but are also widely grown throughout Europe, because of their hardiness.

The Medlar is a small tree and will readily fruit at 5 years old with a height of only 4 or 5 feet. When seen for sale, planted in pots, in tree nurseries, they will often already have a good crop of fruits on them. The deciduous Medlar has long leaves not unlike those of a Laurel leaf in shape.

The fruits were most popular around the time of King James the 1st and have largely been forgotten about in more recent times, although, through the ages, many writers, including Shakespeare, have mentioned them in their works.

Cultivated varieties do exist, but are not often seen on sale in England and are relatively expensive, however the trees are said to germinate readily from their large irregular seeds that are found in any ripe fruit.

Medlar fruits are said to ripen best on the tree to keep their moisture content high, as they can be dry and have a grainy texture, if they are picked and ripened inside. Like many English fruits they were traditionally used, in making wine, jam and jelly. The fruits of the Medlar are very hard until fully ripe, and from one angle, not unlike small apples in their appearance. To soften the fruit they have to be “Bletted,” which is a posh word that simply means the fruit has gone rotten. When this happens the soft fruit can be carefully peeled to reveal the brown pulp inside which looks most unappetising. From another angle the fruit is unkindly said, to look like a dogs bottom and the ripe brown flesh looks like something the dog has done!

Medlars are definitely an acquired taste and were most enjoyed centuries ago, by the Gentry, who as we all know also like rotten meat that has flies crawling all over it and is riddled with maggots! (Traditional game meats such as Hare.)

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