The following Participating Institutions are custodians for this species in the CPC National Collection:
Missouri Botanical Garden
Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden
The conservation of Mespilus canescens is fully sponsored.
Kimberlie McCue, Ph.D. contributed to this Plant Profile.
Stern's medlar was first described as a species in 1990 and represents a new generic record for the North American Flora. The closest relative of M. canescens is Mespilus germanica, a species native to Europe and Asia Minor. Together, these species comprise the whole of the genus Mespilus.
The medlar is a beautiful multi-stemmed plant. Blooming in late April, the medlar becomes a showy mass of white blossoms. However, the display is far too brief, lasting only a week.
Many mysteries surround Stern's medlar. Solving some of them will be critical to its survival. For example, although the species has produced fruit in the past, fruit has not been observed on the plants for many years, despite its profuse flowering.
Distribution & Occurrence
Deciduous grove, once surrounded by prairie, now agricultural land.
The grove is privately owned, however, the owner has granted a conservation easement for the 22 acre site to the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission. The site is known as the Konecny Grove Natural Area. (Phipps 1990)
Occurs with Crataegus sp., Celtis laevigata, Morus rubra, Smilax sp., and Senecio aurea.
|One population known, containing only about 25 individuals. (Phipps 1990)|
Conservation, Ecology & Research
Changes in the water-table
Chemical run-off from adjacent agricultural lands
All individual medlar in the grove have been sampled for genetic analysis. One major concern was that the population might consist of a single, or a few clones. RAPD analysis showed that not to be the case. Although all the plants are closely related, they are not clones.
Because the plants are not reproducing in the wild, great attention is being given to propagating the species ex situ. Rooted cuttings from many of the wild plants were taken and placed in pots in the Missouri Botanical Garden greenhouse. Those cuttings are now in their second year of growth. From these cuttings, tissue was also taken in order to attempt to grow the plant via tissue culture.
Studies into the reproductive biology of the species are needed.
Dickinson, T.; Evans, R.C.; Campbell, C.S. Phylogenetic relationships between Crataegus and Mespilus (Rosaceae subf. Maloideae) based on rDNA sequence variation. Botany 2000!; Oregon Convention Center, Portland, OR. 2000.