Permaculture Gardening and Landscaping: Marvelous Medlar
Updated: Aug 11, 2019
This small tree, somewhat tropical in appearance, is a valuable asset to your food forest or edible, permaculture landscape. It's adaptable, self-pollinating, and easy to establish in any fertile soil. It bears a tasty, late harvest fruit that was no small part of the ancient Greek and Roman diet. Resembling a large, brown rose hip, the fruit can be eaten raw after bletting, when it becomes soft and sweet, like a baked apple lightly frosted with cinnamon cream. The medlar, Mespilus germanica, fell out of favor during the industrial revolution due to a lack of commercial support. I favor this species in food forest designs for many reasons. First, it flowers late to avoid frost damage and sustain pollinator populations; it provides food very late in the year, ripening in November and December. The lifespan of this antique fruiting tree is about 50 years; it is quick to harvest, about 2-3 years. I'm anxious to try this Victorian era recipe I found for "Medlar cheese" from an obscure "cookbook" published in London in the 1880s by Theodor Garrett. Medlar. Marvelous.