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This article is about the genus of flowering plants called Medlar. For other uses, see Medlar.
Medlar pomes and leaves.jpg
Common medlar foliage and fruit
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Rosales
Family: Rosaceae
Subfamily: Amygdaloideae[1]
Tribe: Maleae
Subtribe: Malinae
Genus: Mespilus
Bosc ex Spach

Mespilus canescens
Mespilus germanica

Common medlar flowers
Medlar fruit, cv. 'Nefle Precoce'

Mespilus, commonly called medlar, is a genus of two species of flowering plants in the family Rosaceae. One, Mespilus germanica, is a long-known native of southwest Asia and possibly also southeastern Europe, and the other, Mespilus canescens, was discovered in North America in 1990.[citation needed]


Mespilus are deciduous large shrubs to small trees growing up to 8 metres (26 ft) tall. The fruit is a pome, matte brown in M. germanica and glossy red in M. canescens.


Mespilus germanica is apparently native only to southwest Asia and southeastern Europe, i.e. near the Black Sea coast and western Mediterranean, and Asia Minor, as well as the Caucasus and northern Iran, but it has an ancient history of cultivation and wild plants exist in a much wider area; it was grown by the ancient Greeks and Romans, beginning in the second century BC. Mespilus germanica was a very popular fruit in Western Europe during the Victorian era,[citation needed] but has fallen out of favour there.

Related plants[edit]

Within subfamily Amygdaloideae, Mespilus is most closely related to Crataegus, Amelanchier, Peraphyllum, and Malacomeles.[2]

The genus Eriobotrya was once considered to be closely related to Mespilus. The loquat, one of several Eriobotrya species, was formerly thought to be closely related to the genus Mespilus, and is still sometimes known in some European countries as a medlar and is still sometimes called the "Japanese Medlar".

Many authors group Mespilus together with Crataegus in a single genus. When thus combined the correct species names are Crataegus germanica (L.) Kuntze, and Crataegus ×canescens (J. B. Phipps) T. A. Dickinson & E. Y. Y. Lo.[3][4][5][6][7][8]


Mespilus germanica features an unusual apple-like fruit. In southern Europe the medlar fruits ripen fully and can be eaten off the tree, but in northern climates they require bletting to eat.[9]


  1. ^ Potter, D., et al. (2007). Phylogeny and classification of Rosaceae. Plant Systematics and Evolution. 266(1–2): 5–43. [Referring to the subfamily by the name "Spiraeoideae"]
  2. ^ Campbell, C.S.; Evans, R.C.; Morgan, D.R.; Dickinson, T.A.; Arsenault, M.P. (2007). Phylogeny of subtribe Pyrinae (formerly the Maloideae, Rosaceae): Limited resolution of a complex evolutionary history. Plant Systematics and Evolution. 266(1–2): 119–145.
  3. ^ Scopoli, G.A. (1760). Flora Carniolica Exhibens Plantas Carniolae Indigenas et Distributas in Classes Naturales cum Differentiis Specificis, Synonymis Recentiorum, Locis Natalibus, Nominibus Incolarum, Observationibus Selectis, Viribus Medicis. p. 583. 
  4. ^ Castiglioni, L.G. 1790. Luigi Castiglioni's Viaggio travels in the United States of North America 1785–1787 with natural history commentary and Luigi Castiglioni's Botanical Observations: Viaggio negli Stati Uniti dell' America Settentrionalle fatto negli Anni 1785, 1786 e 1787....
  5. ^ Moench, C. 1794. Methodus Plantas Horti Botanici et Agri Marburgensis: Reprint with introduction and biography by William T. Stearn. Otto Koeltz Antiquariat, Koenigstein-Taunus.
  6. ^ Koch, K. 1869. Dendrologie: Bäume, Sträucher und Halbsträucher, welche in Mittel- un Nord- Europa in Freien kultivirt werden. Verlag von Ferdinand Enke, Erlangen.
  7. ^ Kuntze, O. (1891). Revisio generum plantarum 1. Leipzig: A. Felix. p. 215. 
  8. ^ Lo, E.; Stefanović, S.; Dickinson, T.A. (2007). Molecular reapprasial of relationships between Crataegus and Mespilus (Rosaceae, Pyreae) – Two genera or one? Systematic Botany. 32(3): 596–616.
  9. ^ Eichhorn, Markus (July 2011). "Nottingham Medlar". Test Tube. Brady Haran for the University of Nottingham.