Medlar-Tree, the Common, or Mespilus germanica, L. a native of Britain, growing in hedges, and flowering in the month of May.
This hardy shrub is cultivated in gardens, either for the sake of its fruit,' for standards, or as espaliers. It will thrive in any common soil, or situation, and may be propagated either by seeds, which l.e two years under ground before they vegetate ; or by grafting, or inoculating it on hawthorn or crab-tree stocks.—When designed for fruit-trees, they may be trained as dwarfs, for standards, or for espaliers : in either case, they are managed in a manner similar to apple or pear trees.
Grafting, or budding, is the best. and most certain method of cultivating the different sorts of the medlar, so as to continue their species: after pruning their first shoots from the graft, or bud, it will be necessary to force out a proper supply of wood for raising a head ; then to train the branches chiefly at full length, and to suffer the standards spontaneously to expand. Medlars possess a subacid, vinous flavour, which to many palates is very agreeable ; though disliked by others: while firm and sound, they are of a remarkab y austere and repugnant taste, which, however, is completely changed, when they begin in a manner to undergo the putrefactive fermentation, so as to become soft and mellow.—All the species of this fruit ripen about the latter end of october, or beginning of November ; when they should be gathered ; partly placed in moist bran, in several layers, to facilitate their maturation; partly deposited on straw, in the fruitery. After a fortnight, or three weeks, those kept in the bran will be eatable ; and the others will gradually ripen.
In their medicinal effects, medlars are very astringent, and have therefore been used with advantage in diarrhoeas: on the contrary, those who are of a costive habit,' ought carefully to abstain from this enticing fruit.
According to Gleditsch and Bautsch, the leaves, branches, ai d unripe fruit of the medlar-tree, have been successfully employed in tanning.—The wood, being hard and tough, resembling that of the pear-tree, is useful for various domestic vessels, as well as for the smaller implements of husbandry.