Medlar is a fruit tree that has long been forgotten but deserves to be rediscovered!
Main Medlar facts
Height – 13 to 20 feet (4 to 6 meters)
Exposure – full sun
Soil – rather rich, well drained
Foliage: deciduous – Harvest: end fall – Flowering: end spring → early summer
Plant a medlar tree in your garden, and you’ll be the highlight of all neighbors admiring this uncanny but savory fruit-bearing tree.
Like most fruit trees, it is best to plant medlar in fall. This promotes root development before winter, thus enhancing recovery and regrowth in spring.
- Medlar loves rather sunny spots, and if sun is lacking, it might not bear medlars.
- This type of tree adapts to most kinds of soil, as long as it drains well and isn’t too heavy.
- A blend of planting soil mix and garden soil is perfect for planting medlar.
- Regular watering over the first year after planting is applicable.
- Follow our guidance to plant the tree.
However, pruning it at any stage of its life won’t hurt if you wish to keep its size under control. Pruning will let you ensure it takes up only the space you plan for it in your garden landscape.
Heavy pruning every 5 to 8 years is better than yearly trimming.
- The best season to prune is winter but during non-freezing weather.
- Removing dead and diseased branches whenever you notice them.
- Snip off the weaker, frail branches if need be.
- Remove in-growing branches and even the scaffold branches out.
How to harvest and eat medlar
Pick the fruit by grasping it between thumb, index and forefinger.
The fruit sometimes bursts open, and even though it looks rotten, it is actually at its best with a taste that is surprising and sweet.
Our bird friends know the secret and quickly come to feast on them when the fruits starts bletting. Bletting means the fruit starts maturing to the point of turning mushy. Although for most fruit types this would be over-ripe, for fruits like medlar and blackthorn sloes, this is really the best time to eat them!
Good to know about the medlar tree
This fruit tree is well suited to harsh climates. Only one medlar species exists to date.
Its deciduous foliage is very dense, and the fruits appear early on in the year, in May. Harvest of these special fruits should wait until the first frost spells, as the fruit softens when faced with frost. This is called “bletted” fruit.
Medlars are typical ingredients for pies, clafoutis, jelly, liquor and even medlar wine.
Medlar diseases and parasites
Apart from fire blight that can destroy a medlar within weeds with no hope of treatment, you’ll just have to deal with more common diseases such as European brown rot, also called medlar rot, and powdery mildew.
- European brown rot – medlars rot while still hanging on the tree.
- Powdery mildew – white velvet covers leaves or brown spots appear on the fruits.
- Regular spraying of Bordeaux mixture helps avoid this type of fungus.
Smart tip about medlar
When harvesting, only harvest fruits that are very ripe on the tree. Once a fruit is detached from the branch, it won’t mature anymore.
- Medlar fruits are rather fragile. Handle them carefully and don’t stack them.