Medlar - Mespilus germanica

Scientific Name: Mespilus germanica (Rosaceae).

English Name: Medlar (Rose Family).

French Name: Le Néflier. The fruits are called nefle or cul de chien (='dog's arse').

5 Key Characters:
  • single fruits like a small brown apple at the ends of branches.
  • the bottom of the fruit navel like and surrounded by long pointed sepals that persist after the fruit is formed.
  • large downy elliptical leaves.
  • deciduous shrub or small tree.
  • flowers large and almost stalkless.
Lookalikes: Apple Malus spp or Quince Cydonia oblonga, which don't have the pointed sepals from the base of the fruit.

Habitat: Hedges and woods.

Flowering Period: May-June.

Status: Introduced (in medieval times or earlier) and locally naturalised. Native to Greece and Italy and countries to the east. The fruit was once an important crop, but is only edible once over ripe and decaying. Traditionally it needs to be bletted (exposed to frost). The wood, which is hard and flexible, was traditionally used for whip handles.

Further Reading and References:

The Medlar as Metaphor - L'Atelier Vert.

Photographed by Loire Valley Nature:
All photos will enlarge in a new window if you click on them. Row 1 on the side of the track along the side of the Etang de la mer rouge in the Brenne, June.

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