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A low deciduous tree of crooked, picturesque habit, usually under 20 ft high; young branchlets very hairy, older ones often armed with stiff, straight spines 1⁄2 to 1 in. long. Leaves almost without stalks, lanceolate or oval, 2 to 5 in. long, minutely toothed, downy on both surfaces, but more so beneath. Flowers solitary at the end of short leafy branches, 1 to 11⁄2 in. across, white or slightly pink, produced on a very short woolly stalk, in May or early June. Petals five, roundish; sepals covered with grey wool, triangular at the base, drawn out into a long, narrow point standing out beyond the petals. Fruits 1 in. wide, five-celled, apple-shaped, brown, with a broad open eye, surrounded by the persistent calyx, and showing the ends of the bony seed-vessels.
The wild medlar is a native of Europe and Asia Minor, and is found wild in the woods of several counties in the south of England, notably Sussex and Kent, but it is not believed to be truly indigenous. It has long been cultivated for its fruit in English orchards, and several named varieties exist. The cultivated forms are distinguished by thornless or nearly thornless branches, by larger, broader leaves, and by larger fruits up to 11⁄2 or 2 in. across. Although much esteemed by those who have acquired the taste for them, medlars are not a popular fruit. They should be left on the tree until the end of October or later, then stored in a fruit-room until they are ‘bletted’ – a term given to indicate a state of incipient decay. A jelly made from the fruits meets a more general taste. The medlar is most closely allied to Crataegus, differing in the solitary flower, etc. It is very hardy, and not particular as to soil.