Common Medlar (Mespilus germanica)


Common Medlar, early May 2011.

This circa 2000 years ago in Germany naturalised fruit tree – so an archaeophyte – is today unfortunately most widely forgotten. This member of the Rose family (Rosaceae) with a Southeast European origin was in medieval times almost as widespread as apple and quince trees. The 3 – 5 centimetres in diameter fruits become after exposition to the first frost soft and edible. Good sourish and aromatic taste.


The Common Medlar growths up to a little tree with a maximum height of 5 metres and and fits so well into a hedge or between other fruit trees. Longish, rather small, dark-green leaves. In spring appear the hermaphrodite, white flowers, which are well pollinated by insects. The brown-yellow apple fruits ripe by the end of October to early November and are pick after the first frost.

„One eats the fruit only then if it has become dough by a kind of fermentation or by frost, whereby it gains a vinous taste.“ [From the book: Naturgeschichte des Pflanzenreichs, 4. edition, from the year 1887]


Flowers of the Common Medlar, early May 2011.

Altogether the culture is unproblematic. No special demands on soil or location. Also a hot and dry location is well tolerated. Very good frost hardiness up to -25°C. Common Medlar trees can be cut as other fruit trees.



In spring 2010 I planted a circa 1,20 metres high Common Medlar tree, which quickly growed on and appeared fast-growing since then.


The first winter was survived without any frost protection. In the first spring weeks the tree shows already an impressive growth. In addition it is in bud, which will probably open up in the first half of May.


Fruits of the Common Medlar, early in October 2013.

This tree is markedly well hardy. In addition it is characterized by a robustness against aridness and pests. It is absolutely to be recommended. This year I have manufactured the first fruits into an excellent confiture. Taste of overripe medlars reminiscent of applesauce with cinnamon.


The bush is grown well. After I could pick in autumn a quite considerable number of fruits, I have manufactured them into confiture and liqueur.

  • Systematics

  • Order: Rosales
  • Family: Rosaceae
  • Subfamily: Spiraeoideae
  • Tribe: Pyreae
  • Subtribe: Pyrinae
  • Genus: Mespilus
  • Propagation

  • generative
  • Culture

  • easy
  • Fruits

  • often
  • USDA – Zone

  • 6b (-20,4°C)