Are commonly called medlars the fruits of two different species of plants, the first is a fruit tree of central European origin, the Mespilus germanica, with brown fruits, ripe autumn, the other is a plant of central Asian origin, now widespread in much of the world, the eriobotrya japonica, with orange fruits, which ripen at the beginning of spring.
The reason why both fruits share the same common name is quite obscure, since the plants do not look alike at all, not belonging to the same family, and even the fruits do not look alike, if not perhaps slightly in the aroma emanating from the pulp.
Let’s start from the most forgotten plant to describe its cultivation; in fact it is an autochthonous European plant, so in Italy it should not have any particular needs, even if in fact it is more suitable for cultivation in the center north, while in the south it happens that it is ruined by the spring and summer heat, producing few fruits.
it is a small tree, very pleasant, with roundish foliage and beautiful star-shaped flowers in late spring, white white in color. The medlar produces many flowers, which make it definitely very pleasant as an ornamental plant, is located in the garden, in a sunny area, only young specimens need fertilization and watering in the early years of life. Adult plants tend to be satisfied with the water received from the weather and not to require large amounts of mineral salts from the ground.
Even the most neglected plants produce many fruits; the fruits are bronze-coloured, round, as big as a golf ball, and just as compact and hard.
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Germanic mespilus cultivation
The fruits of this medlar are not edible when harvested, indeed they are hard, sour-tasting, that floods the teeth; to eat them must be placed in the straw or near apples or bananas, until they acquire a soft texture. At this point the orange-coloured flesh becomes sweet and aromatic.
It is difficult to produce jams or jams with medlars, also because the fruits harvested but not left to admire are preserved for months if kept in a cool and sheltered place.
These medlars are difficult to find on the market, perhaps because it is easier to buy fruits of pseudo-exotic origin, or perhaps because the practice of admixture is not appreciated by most consumers, in fact, even persimmons, which need a similar treatment before being consumed, seems to have an ever decreasing success year after year.
Medlars: Eriobotrya japonica
Small evergreen tree, belonging to the family of Rosaceae; it has large characteristic leaves, dark green in colour, very corrugated, quite leathery.
During the cold months, it produces countless white star-shaped flowers, grouped in inflorescences at the apex of the branches; flowering usually takes place between November and January, depending on the climate; it happens that even in the same place flowering takes place at different times of the year, depending on the course of the seasons.
In the spring, ripe small round fruits, as big as golf balls, orange in colour, with smooth skin and sweet pulp, which are eaten raw, or used for jams or juices.
The Japanese medlar is very cultivated in Italy, also because it often finds a place among the plants of the mixed border, and sometimes the fruits are not even harvested.
It needs to be placed in a well-sunny place; it doesn’t offer particular problems of cultivation, especially when the plant has been indoors for a long time; it tends to bear well the cold and the heat, and also the drought.
It does not require large pruning, maintaining a round and well-balanced canopy, hardly exceeds 4-5 meters in height during its life.
The main problem for those who want to grow medlars is the flowering period: often heavy snowfalls or frosts in November-December completely ruin the flowering, thus preventing even the fructification.
For this reason, those who want to cultivate medlars to obtain many fruits, especially in northern Italy, should place the plant in a place protected from the most intense frost and the winter wind.
- Medlar is a plant, according to certain studies, from the Caucasian area, but we must not forget how the first nucl
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