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Medlar (Mespilus germanica)

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A large shrub or small tree. It is also the name of the fruit of this tree. It was an early introduction to Britain and important in Medieval times. It is indigenous to southwest Asia. It requires mild winters and prefers sunny, dry locations and slightly acidic soil. It can grow up to 8m tall, although usually it is more shrub like. It lives for 30-50 years. The leaves are dark green, 8-15 cm long and 3-4 cm wide, they turn red in autumn before falling. The five-petalled white flowers, produced in late spring, are pollinated by bees. The reddish-brown fruit is 2-3cm in diameter, with wide-spreading sepals that remain around the fruit giving it a distinctive appearance. The fruit is very hard and acidic. They become edible after being softened by frost, stored. The skin takes on a wrinkled texture and turns dark brown, and the inside reduces to an apple sauce consistency and flavour. This process can be a cause of confusion as a softened medlar can looks like it has spoiled. It has been cultivated for around three thousand years. It was known the the Greeks and Romans. By the 17th and 18th century, however, it had been replaced by other fruits, and is rarely cultivated today. Common Medlar is one of the few fruit that becomes edible in winter. There are several cultivars, including 'Royal', 'Nottingham', and 'Dutch'.

Added:
18th Nov 2017 by Diane Earl

Subjects:
Biology, Science

Key Stages:
Foundation, Key Stage 1, Key Stage 2, Key Stage 3, Key Stage 4, Key Stage 4+

Geocode: Maulden Woods

Keywords:
tree fruit medlar

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