Also known as
Common Medlar, Dutch Medlar, Minshull Crab
The fruits become palatable only after being left on the tree (where they are subjected to the first frosts of winter) until they become partly decayed. The process is known as 'bletting'. The harvesting period is Mid-Autumn to winter.
The medlar is a small tree or a large shrub with large, dark-green leaves turning yellow or red in Autumn and fruit that appear brown when they are ripe. The fruit was important throughout history and has been cultivated since Roman times, but are now less known than ever before. Interestingly this fruit is eaten when 'bletted', which means the fruit is left on the tree till after the first frost, then picked partly decayed and so enjoyed. It is not only used in culinary applications but also grown as a medicinal fruit and an ornamental.
Common problems with Medlar
The leafroller weevil (Neocoenorrhinus pauxillusis) is a pest as well as leaf-eating caterpillars and fruitfly.
How to propagate Medlar
Sow in late Autumn. Try soaking the seed for 24 hours in warm water then cold stratifying it for 2-3 months at 1-5°c before sowing it.
Mature wood cuttings are used.
Should be done in Autumn or early Spring. Takes about 18 months.
Special features of Medlar
Attracts useful insects
Attracts insects such as bees.
Leaves turn red in autumn before falling.
Pretty blossoms in Spring.
Other uses of Medlar
In Iran, the fruits, leaves, bark and wood of the tree have been used as medicines for ailments including diarrhoea, bloating of the stomach, throat abscesses and fever.
Fruits are mainly used to make a high-quality jelly or turned into tasty compotes. It can also be eaten raw or made into a delicious juice.