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|Common medlar foliage and fruit|
Bosc ex Spach
Mespilus, commonly called medlar, is a monotypic genus of flowering plants in the family Rosaceae containing the single species Mespilus germanica of southwest Asia. A second proposed species, Mespilus canescens, discovered in North America in 1990, proved to be a hybrid between M. germanica and one or more species of hawthorn, and is properly known as ×Crataemespilus 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, but has fallen out of favour there.
The medlar is referenced in William Shakespeare's comedy, As You Like It, Act III, scene ii, lines 117-120 in an engaging repartee between Rosalind and Touchstone, the Fool.
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".
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- Flora of North America
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- 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.
- Eichhorn, Markus (July 2011). "Nottingham Medlar". Test Tube. Brady Haran for the University of Nottingham.
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