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Mespilus germanica - L.

Common Name Medlar
Family Rosaceae
USDA hardiness 5-8
Known Hazards The seeds contain the toxic hydrocyanic acid (the substance that gives almonds their flavour) and should not be eaten in quantity[7].
Habitats Woods and hedgerows[7, 17].
Range S.E. Europe to W. Asia. Occasionally naturalized in Britain.
Edibility Rating    (4 of 5)
Other Uses    (1 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (1 of 5)
Care (info)
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Mespilus germanica Medlar

Mespilus germanica Medlar


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of lolypop
Mespilus germanica is a deciduous Tree growing to 6 m (19ft) by 6 m (19ft) at a medium rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 6 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from May to June, and the seeds ripen in November. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Bees. The plant is self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Pyrus germanica.

Plant Habitats

Woodland Garden Secondary; Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Fruit
Edible Uses:

Fruit - raw or cooked[2, 3, 5, 7, 12]. The fruit does not always ripen fully in cooler temperate zones such as Britain. However it can be harvested in late autumn (preferably after it has had some frost) whilst still hard and then needs to be bletted before it can be eaten raw. This entails storing it, stalk end upwards, in a cool place for a short while until it is on the point of (but not quite) rotting[200], a state described as incipient decay. At this stage the flesh turns from white to brown, becomes very soft and is quite sweet with an absolutely delicious flavour that somewhat resembles a luscious tropical fruit[K]. The fruit of the wild species is up to 25mm in diameter, though some cultivars can be 65mm or more in diameter[200].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Astringent  Laxative

The pulp of the fruit is laxative[7]. The leaves are astringent[7]. The seed is lithontripic[7]. It is ground up for use, but caution should be employed since the seeds contain the toxin hydrocyanic acid[7]. The bark has been used as a substitute for quinine, but with uncertain results[7].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses


Wood - hard, flexible[100].

Special Uses

Food Forest

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Succeeds in most soils[11], preferring one that is moist and well-drained[1, 37, 200]. Prefers a sunny position[1, 3] and a fertile soil[188]. Occasionally cultivated for its edible fruit, there are some named varieties[183, 200]. The plant is heat tolerant in zones 9 through 6. (Plant Hardiness Zones show how well plants withstand cold winter temperatures. Plant Heat Zones show when plants would start suffering from the heat. The Plant Heat Zone map is based on the number of "heat days" experienced in a given area where the temperature climbs to over 86 degrees F (30°C). At this temperature, many plants begin to suffer physiological damage. Heat Zones range from 1 (no heat days) to 12 (210 or more heat days). For example Heat Zone. 11-1 indicates that the plant is heat tolerant in zones 11 through 1.) For polyculture design as well as the above-ground architecture (form - tree, shrub etc. and size shown above) information on the habit and root pattern is also useful and given here if available. The plant growth habit is a standard with a non-suckering single trunk [1-2]. In garden design, as well as the above-ground architecture of a plant, root structure considerations help in choosing plants that work together for their optimal soil requirements including nutrients and water. The root pattern is branching: a heart root, dividing from the crown into several primary roots going down and out [2-1].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Plant Propagation

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in late autumn in a cold frame[78]. The seed has a very hard and impermeable seedcoat and will not usually germinate until it has gone through two winters. Commercially, such seeds are soaked for a short while in sulphuric acid to break down the seed coat and allow the seed to take up moisture, this is a very delicate procedure and difficult to do on a small scale. A home gardener could try soaking the seed for 24 hours in warm water then cold stratifying it for 2 - 3 months at 1 - 5°c before sowing it. Alternatively, if you can harvest the seed green (as soon as it is mature but before the seed coat has dried and hardened), then sow it immediately in a cold frame you might reduce the time needed for it to germinate. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the cold frame for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Cuttings of mature wood, November in a cold frame. Poor percentage. Layering in autumn or early spring. Takes 18 months[78].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

TEMPERATE ASIA: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Ciscaucasia, Dagestan, Georgia, Iraq (north), Russian Federation, Russian Federation-Ciscaucasia, Turkey, Turkmenistan (south),Iran (north). EUROPE: Ukraine, Krym, Bulgaria, Greece, Italy (incl. Sardinia, Sicily (but doubtfully indigenous)),

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Amelanchier ovalisSnowy Mespilus, Dwarf Garden ServiceberryShrub5.0 5-7 SLMHNM20 
Crataegomespilus dardariiBronvaux MedlarTree5.0 5-9 MLMHSNM30 

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Botanical References


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Readers comment

Ty Jeffries   Mon Sep 6 15:49:13 2004

I planted a Nottingham Medlar in my small front garden.It is a tree of probably four or five years old It gets full sun( when we have any) all afternoon. It is quite lovley has started sprouting again as if it may flower for some reason in again in september ..althoughit it's already covered in fruit. I think it is one of my favourite trees for a small garden...I bought it last october when it was simply a glowing scarlet thing and i look forward to seeing its colour again this autumn.Your site is very thorough and informative and it sounds like you're doing great work...keep it up!

Katherine Ellis   Tue Jul 7 2009

We have a house in the Cote d'Azur with a typical Mediterranean climate. We have a mespilus germanica (neflier in French)in a raised bed on a terrace. Earlier this year, some of the leaves curled and turned black. Our gardener claims that it had been over-watered, and is now restricting the watering to once per week. We, on the other hand, believe that it was probably under-watered. Do you have any advice? Many thanks

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