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Medlar Tree Medlar Tree

Medlars are an unusual fruit that has gone out of fashion somewhat in the UK, although they are still relatively popular in France. They resemble pear trees, but have bigger leaves and single large white flowers. The trees are originally from Persia, although they have been cultivated in Europe since around 300BC.

In cooler regions (UK included) the fruit rarely fully ripens on the tree, and so the fruit is traditionally ‘bletted’ – stored until the point of decomposition, and eaten raw the flavour is often compared to that of a rotten pear. Don’t discount medlars though, they are great for making chutneys and jellies – well worthwhile if you can get your hands on some, and if you have space to grow them, they are a most attractive tree.

The problem with medlars is the size of the tree. There are no dwarfing rootstocks, or easy ways to train these to keep them small, so you will need a big garden to grow these. They will reach an eventual height of 9m (30ft).

Growing Medlars

If you decide to plant a medlar, then prepare the soil well in advance by digging in lots of well-rotted manure. They prefer well drained soil and try to find a spot where they will not be exposed to harsh easterly winds.

Buy your tree from a reputable nursery or mail order company. They will usually be supplied as a 3 or 4 year old standard or half standard, and plant between late autumn and early spring. Support the tree with a stake.

Pruning Medlars

For the first 2 years cut back the leaders of the main framework by half each year, and then in the 3rd and 4th year cut them back by a quarter. Do this in winter.

Mature trees need very little or no pruning.

Medlar Varieties

There are two common varieties available, Nottingham which has smaller fruit that are more richly flavoured and Dutch which has wider spreading branches and larger fruit.

Phyl @ The Allotment Gardener

Lifelong gardener and allotment enthusiast. Now have 3 allotments!

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