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medlar (mĕdˈlər) [key], small deciduous tree ( Mespilus germanica ) of the family Rosaceae (rose family), native to Europe and Asia. It has luxuriant foliage and large white or pinkish flowers; in the wild state it is sometimes thorny. The medlar has long been cultivated in parts of Europe for its acid, apple-shaped fruit. It is usually not picked until after it has been touched by frost; then the fruit is stored until the ripening process is completed. It is commonly eaten fresh but is sometimes used for preserves. Medlar is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Rosales, family Rosaceae.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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