CPC Plant Profile: Stern's Medlar
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Plant Profile

Stern's Medlar (Mespilus canescens)

Close-up of the round red fruit & reddish leaves of this species. Photo Credit: Joe Ditto
Description
  • Global Rank: G1 - Critically Imperiled
  • Legal Status: N/A
  • Family: Rosaceae
  • State: AR
  • Nature Serve ID: 158391
  • Date Inducted in National Collection: 12/07/2021

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.

Participating Institutions
Updates
  • 09/19/2020
  • Tissue Culture

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.

  • 09/19/2020
  • Propagation Research

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.

  • 09/19/2020
  • Living Collection

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.

  • 09/19/2020
  • Genetic Research

Isozymes were used to test the relatedness of the two known but continentally disjunct known species of Mespilus, as well as to distinguish them from their close relatives, species in the genus Crataegus. (Phipps et al. 1991)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.

Nature Serve Biotics
  • 05/02/2017

Despite intensive searches, this recently described species is known only from 25 plants at a single site in Arkansas. The site - an isolated 9 ha remnant of a once-extensive woodland - is protected through an easement with the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission.

Kimberlie McCue, Ph.D.
  • 01/01/2010

Plants are being crushed by the weight of Lonicera japonica, an exotic invasive species Changes in the water-table Chemical run-off from adjacent agricultural lands

Kimberlie McCue, Ph.D.
  • 01/01/2010

One population known, containing only about 25 individuals. (Phipps 1990)

Kimberlie McCue, Ph.D.
  • 01/01/2010

Isozymes were used to test the relatedness of the two known but continentally disjunct known species of Mespilus, as well as to distinguish them from their close relatives, species in the genus Crataegus. (Phipps et al. 1991) 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.

Kimberlie McCue, Ph.D.
  • 01/01/2010

The grove is monitored periodically by the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission.

Kimberlie McCue, Ph.D.
  • 01/01/2010

A concerted effort needs to be made to eradicate Lonicera japonica from the grove. Studies into the reproductive biology of the species are needed.

Kimberlie McCue, Ph.D.
  • 01/01/2010

Propagation techniques need to be further developed.

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Photos
Nomenclature
Taxon Mespilus canescens
Authority Phipps
Family Rosaceae
CPC Number 5000
ITIS 503820
USDA MECA10
Common Names Stern's medlar
Associated Scientific Names Mespilus canescens | Crataegus X canescens
Distribution The known range of Mespilus canescens is within the 22-acre Konecny Grove Natural Area. (Phipps 1990)
State Rank
State State Rank
Arkansas S1
Habitat

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.

Ecological Relationships

None known.

Pollinators
Common Name Name in Text Association Type Source InteractionID

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