Meddlar Tree

The medlar is a small tree, two to three meters high but which can sometimes grow to six meters. It grows wildly, scattered among forests, woods and hedgerows, mainly in south-western Europe. Its latin name "Mespilus germanica" is a due to its possible German origins, but was apparently first introduced into Europe from northern Persia or from the Balkans. Its fruit is like a wild apple which may be eaten, over-ripe, after the first frosts. It is reputed for its medical properties particularly concerning intestinal disorders.

It is a slow grower but this only strengthens its qualities. The wood is tough, even, and with a very fine grain. It polishes well, resists wear and tear and is practically unbreakable.

Writers, including Voltaire, have mentioned the qualities of the medlar stick. In the Basque Country a makhila was defined by Fabre in 1869 as "a baton of medlar wood fashioned with a handle of cooper or leather, with a wrist strap". The medlar is known in many languages and dialects : "néflier" in French, "nispolero" in Spanish, "Mespelbaum" in German, "nespolo" in Italian. The Basque word is "mizpirondoa" and in other French regions the name varies from "mesper", "mêlié", "népi" or "nespoulié". The origin is both from the Greek "mespilon" and latin "mespilus".