Mespilus

Cladus: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Divisio: Magnoliophyta
Classis: Magnoliopsida
Ordo: Rosales
Familia: Rosaceae
Subfamilia: Maloideae
Genus: Mespilus
Species: M. canescens - M. germanica

Name

Mespilus L.

Vernacular names
Internationalization
Dansk: Mispel-slægten
Deutsch: Mispeln
English: Medlar
Français: Nèfle
Magyar: Naspolya
Lietuvių: Šliandra
Nederlands: Mispel
Runa Simi: Wiswiru
Русский: Мушмула
Українська: Мушмура

Medlar (Mespilus) is a genus of two species of flowering plants in the subfamily Maloideae of the family Rosaceae. One, Common Medlar Mespilus germanica, is a long-known native of southwest Asia and possibly also southeastern Europe (Black Sea coast of modern Turkey), and the other, Stern's Medlar Mespilus canescens, was recently (1990) discovered in North America.

The Common medlar features an unusual apple-like fruit that requires bletting to eat; although not widely eaten today, consumption of these fruits was much more common in the past.


Plant

Medlars are deciduous large shrubs or small trees growing up to 8 m tall. The leaves are dark green and elliptic, six to fifteen centimetres long and three to four centimetres wide. The leaves turn a spectacular red in autumn before falling. The five-petalled white flowers, produced in late spring, are hermaphrodite and pollinated by bees. The fruit is a pome, two to three centimetres in diameter, with wide-spreading persistent sepals giving a "hollow" appearance to the fruit; it is matte brown in M. germanica and glossy red in M. canescens.

History

The Common medlar can most commonly be found today in Southwest Asia and Southeastern Europe, i.e. along the Black Sea coast of modern Turkey. The fruit is native to Asia Minor [2], as well as the Caucasus and Northern Iran, and has an ancient history of cultivation; it was grown by the ancient Greeks and Romans, beginning in the 2nd century BCE. The medlar was a very popular fruit during the Victorian era; however, it is a fruit which is now rarely appreciated except in certain areas, such as the northern province of Gilan (Persian: استان گیلان) and Mazandaran (مازندران)in the Caspian sea region of Iran, across the central Balkans and in the Caucasus.

Related plants

Within subfamily Spiraeoideae, Mespilus is most closely related to Crataegus, Amelanchier, Peraphyllum, and Malacomeles.[3]

The genus Eriobotrya (loquats) was once considered to be closely related to Mespilus, and is still sometimes called the "Japanese Medlar".

Many authors group Mespilus together with Crataegus in a single genus, with species names Crataegus germanica (L.) Kuntze, and Crataegus ×canescens (J. B. Phipps) T. A. Dickinson & E. Y. Y. Lo.[4][5][6][7][8][9]

Availability

Medlars are not widely available at present, though one can purchase the fruit and trees of the Common medlar from specialists.

In the UK, Common medlar fruit are available seasonally at Borough Market, from Fitz at the market or online www.herbspice.co.uk or Booth's (The Wild Mushroom Store) and Chegworth valley.

Common medlar jelly is available year-round from Classic Preserves of Brogdale Agricultural Trust and from Tiptree.

Trees

The trees are self-fertilizing and long-lived (they can be hundreds of years old), and saplings are cheaply available by mail order in the UK.

In the US, trees and seeds are available as discussed in this article: Plant of the Week: Medlar

Notes

1. ^ Potter, D.; Eriksson, T.; Evans, R.C.; Oh, S.H.; Smedmark, J.E.E.; Morgan, D.R.; Kerr, M.; Robertson, K.R.; Arsenault, M.P.; Dickinson, T.A.; Campbell, C.S. (2007). Phylogeny and classification of Rosaceae. Plant Systematics and Evolution. 266(1–2): 5–43.
2. ^ http://www.nytimes.com/2004/11/03/dining/03MEDL.html
3. ^ Campbell, C.S.; Evans, R.C.; Morgan, D.R.; Dickinson, T.A.; Arsenault, M.P. (2007). Phylogeny of subtribe Pyrinae (formerly the Maloideae, Rosaceae): Limited resolution of a complex evolutionary history. Plant Systematics and Evolution. 266(1–2): 119–145.
4. ^ Scopoli, G.A. 1760. Flora Carniolica Exhibens Plantas Carniolae Indigenas et Distributas in Classes Naturales cum Differentiis Specificis, Synonymis Recentiorum, Locis Natalibus, Nominibus Incolarum, Observationibus Selectis, Viribus Medicis..
5. ^ Castiglioni, L.G. 1790. Luigi Castiglioni's Viaggio travels in the United States of North America 1785-1787 with natural history commentary and Luigi Castiglioni's Botanical Observations: Viaggio negli Stati Uniti dell' America Settentrionalle fatto negli Anni 1785, 1786 e 1787....
6. ^ Moench, C. 1794. Methodus Plantas Horti Botanici et Agri Marburgensis: Reprint with introduction and biography by William T. Stearn. Otto Koeltz Antiquariat, Koenigstein-Taunus.
7. ^ Koch, K. 1869. Dendrologie: Bäume, Sträucher und Halbsträucher, welche in Mittel- un Nord- Europa in Freien kultivirt werden. Verlag von Ferdinand Enke, Erlangen.
8. ^ Kuntze, O. 1891. Revisio generum plantarum. A. Felix, Leipzig.
9. ^ 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.

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