The Trees at Keele

Medlar  Mespilus germanica


Origin: A native of southern Europe, it has long been cultivated in this country. It is rarely found today; in a few old cottage gardens and in collections.

Flowers: it is related to the thorns of the genus Crataegus but, unlike those, the flowers are large and single; appearing in late May. The narrow sepals, which are longer than the petals, are not shown in the photograph.

Leaves: the leaves, which are alternate and 5 to 15cm long, may or may not be toothed, they have sunken veins and become crinkled with age.

Fruit: for centuries the fruit, sometimes called a "medle" or "merle" was a delicacy. It was eaten by the Greeks and Romans and was believed to be a cure for a variety of ailments. It is made into preserves but can only be eaten raw when left to half rot; a process called "bletting". Fruits on the Keele tree were seen for the first time in 2009.

Location : one tree on the Horwood side of the path on the far side of Lake 1, opposite the Grey Poplar; square P10; tag 1011; one in the Memorial Garden; square K11; tag 38.