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Toxic parts

The seeds contain the toxic hydrocyanic acid (the substance that gives almonds their flavour) and should not be eaten in quantity[1].

Edible uses


Fruit - raw or cooked[2][3][4][1][5]. 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[6], 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[6].


Material uses

Wood - hard, flexible[7].

Unknown part

Medicinal uses(Warning!)

The pulp of the fruit is laxative[1]. The leaves are astringent[1]. The seed is lithontripic[1]. It is ground up for use, but caution should be employed since the seeds contain the toxin hydrocyanic acid[1]. The bark has been used as a substitute for quinine, but with uncertain results[1].

Unknown part


Ecosystem niche/layer

Secondary canopy

Ecological Functions

Nothing listed.


Nothing listed.


Nothing listed.


Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in late autumn in a cold frame[8]. 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[8].

Practical Plants is currently lacking information on propagation instructions of Mespilus germanica. Help us fill in the blanks! Edit this page to add your knowledge.


Succeeds in most soils[9], preferring one that is moist and well-drained[10][11][6]. Prefers a sunny position[10][3] and a fertile soil[12]. Occasionally cultivated for its edible fruit, there are some named varieties[13][6].


Problems, pests & diseases

Associations & Interactions

There are no interactions listed for Mespilus germanica. Do you know of an interaction that should be listed here? edit this page to add it.

Polycultures & Guilds

There are no polycultures listed which include Mespilus germanica.




None listed.


None listed.

Full Data

This table shows all the data stored for this plant.

Binomial name
Mespilus germanica
Imported References
Edible uses
Medicinal uses
Material uses & Functions
Edible uses
None listed.
Material uses
None listed.
Medicinal uses
None listed.
Functions & Nature
Provides forage for
Provides shelter for
Hardiness Zone
Heat Zone
full sun
light shade
Soil PH
Soil Texture
Soil Water Retention
Environmental Tolerances
  • Strong wind
Native Climate Zones
None listed.
Adapted Climate Zones
None listed.
Native Geographical Range
None listed.
Native Environment
None listed.
Ecosystem Niche
Root Zone Tendancy
None listed.
Deciduous or Evergreen
Herbaceous or Woody
Life Cycle
Growth Rate
Mature Size
6 x 6 meters
Flower Colour
Flower Type


  1. ? Chiej. R. Encyclopaedia of Medicinal Plants. MacDonald ISBN 0-356-10541-5 (1984-01-01)
  2. ? 2.02.1 Hedrick. U. P. Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World. Dover Publications ISBN 0-486-20459-6 (1972-01-01)
  3. ? Simmons. A. E. Growing Unusual Fruit. David and Charles ISBN 0-7153-5531-7 (1972-01-01)
  4. ? 4.04.1 Mabey. R. Food for Free. Collins ISBN 0-00-219060-5 (1974-01-01)
  5. ? 5.05.1 Loewenfeld. C. and Back. P. Britain's Wild Larder. David and Charles ISBN 0-7153-7971-2 ()
  6. ? Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press ISBN 0-333-47494-5 (1992-01-01)
  7. ? 7.07.1 Polunin. O. Flowers of Europe - A Field Guide. Oxford University Press ISBN 0192176218 (1969-01-01)
  8. ? 8.08.1 Sheat. W. G. Propagation of Trees, Shrubs and Conifers. MacMillan and Co (1948-01-01)
  9. ? 9.09.1 Bean. W. Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement. Murray (1981-01-01)
  10. ? 10.010.1 F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956 Oxford University Press (1951-01-01)
  11. ? Thompson. B. The Gardener's Assistant. Blackie and Son. (1878-01-01)
  12. ? Brickell. C. The RHS Gardener's Encyclopedia of Plants and Flowers Dorling Kindersley Publishers Ltd. ISBN 0-86318-386-7 (1990-01-01)
  13. ? Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants. Kampong Publications ISBN 0-9628087-0-9 (1990-01-01)

Cite error: <ref> tag with name "PFAFimport-17" defined in <references> is not used in prior text.

Facts about "Mespilus germanica"RDF feed
Article is incompleteYes +
Belongs to familyRosaceae +
Belongs to genusMespilus +
Has binomial nameMespilus germanica +
Has common nameMedlar +
Has drought toleranceIntolerant +
Has edible partFruit +
Has edible useUnknown use +
Has environmental toleranceHigh wind +
Has fertility typeSelf fertile + and Bees +
Has flowers of typeHermaphrodite +
Has growth rateModerate +
Has hardiness zone6 +
Has lifecycle typePerennial +
Has material partUnknown part +
Has material useWood +
Has mature height6 +
Has mature width6 +
Has medicinal partUnknown part +
Has medicinal useAstringent + and Laxative +
Has search namemespilus germanica + and medlar +
Has shade toleranceLight shade +
Has soil ph preferenceAcid +, Neutral + and Alkaline +
Has soil texture preferenceSandy +, Loamy + and Clay +
Has soil water retention preferenceWell drained +
Has sun preferenceFull sun +
Has taxonomic rankSpecies +
Has taxonomy nameMespilus germanica +
Has water requirementsmoderate +
Inhabits ecosystem nicheSecondary canopy +
Is deciduous or evergreenDeciduous +
Is herbaceous or woodyWoody +
Is taxonomy typeSpecies +
PFAF cultivation notes migratedYes +
PFAF edible use notes migratedYes +
PFAF material use notes migratedYes +
PFAF medicinal use notes migratedYes +
PFAF propagation notes migratedYes +
PFAF toxicity notes migratedYes +
Tolerates nutritionally poor soilNo +
Tolerates windYes +
Uses mature size measurement unitMeters +
Has subobjectThis property is a special property in this wiki.Mespilus germanica +, Mespilus germanica +, Mespilus germanica + and Mespilus germanica +