Even the most experienced of tree identifiers can miss something that is right under their nose!
One of the Special Trees and Woods Project volunteers thought he had searched and identified his local area for rare and interesting trees. Therefore, it came as a surprise when he spotted a considerable rarity which is less than a quarter of a mile from where he lives in Flackwell Heath; "I must have walked past it hundreds of times and never spotted it". The tree in question is a Medlar (Mespilus germanica).
In his defence, its leaves are very nondescript - apple-like, ovate, serrated etc. It could be anything in general and nothing in particular. The tree's size doesn't make it stand out either as it only the size of a large bush. The fruit is unmistakeable, however, and that's why he finally saw it!
The fruit is edible when half rotten and the owner of the Medlar says she has previously made medlar jam which is quite nice, and plans to make more this year. A neighbour tried to make medlar wine... but has not been heard of since!
This tree is rare, and even more unusual in this location, next to a roadside. The species is normally seen in cottage gardens and kitchen gardens of stately homes. The origin of this tree unknown: it is believed medlars were occasionally used as understorey in orchards, so this may possibly indicate that this land was once one of Flackwell Heath's famous cherry orchards. However the size and age of this particular specimen may place doubts on that theory.
On the roadside on Links Road.
Links Road, Flackwell Heath