Cricket Hill Garden
Mespilus, 'Breda Giant' medlar
Variety description: 'Breda Giant' is a large fruited cultivar from the Netherlands. It bears an abundant crop of 1 1/2"-1 3/4" diameter fruit. Fine textured and sweet when fully ripe, these fruit are great for sauces and preserves.
Medlars are close relatives of hawthorns and are native to southeastern coastal region of Mediterranean and southwestern Asia. Medlars have at least a thousand year long cultivation history over a wide region stretching from Iran to England. Charlemagne dictated that medlars be planted in all of his royal estates, while Shakespeare referenced the fruit is several of his plays.
The odd shaped, green-brown fruit looks like a large crab apple with its bottom end open rather than spherical. The fruit should be picked after the first hard frost. At this point it will still be hard and unpleasant. In order to ripen or "blett" the fruit, it is stored in a cool, dry place until the pulp softens and turns a light brown. Ripe medlars are quite delicious, with a flavor similar to spicy apple sauce.
The English scholar and wine connoisseur George Saintsbury wrote in his classic Notes on a Cellar that "the one fruit which seems to me to go best with all wine, from hock to sherry and from claret to port, is the Medlar - an admirable and distinguished thing in itself, and a worthy mate for the best of liquors."
Medlars grow into attractive small trees which are covered in soft pink-white flowers in the spring. Fall foliage is quite attractive, with the leaves turning hues of golden red and orange. Medlar's are self-fertile.
Site requirements: Full sun location. Medlars will grow in a range of soil types provided the planting location is well drained. Soil pH of 6.5 is ideal. Will grow to 8-10'.
Hardiness: USDA zones 4-9.
Plant size: Tree, 1-2' tall, with strong central leader.
When we ship: FALL 2023 / SPRING 2024.
Shipping restrictions: Cannot ship to Canada.