Indigenous to South Africa, Vangueria infausta is a small to medium, deciduous shrub or tree that is found in almost all of our provinces.
Growing to a height of between 3 to 7 m, the Wild Medlar is a popular, natural fruit tree that is drought resistant and fairly cold resistant, making it ideal for our highveld gardens. It is, more often than not, multi stemmed and branches grow from low down at the base to form a moderately dense ball-shaped crown. The smooth bark is greyish to yellowish brown and peels in irregular strips to form an interesting texture.
The leaves are light green with soft velvety hairs, especially when young. As the leaves get older they appear twisted and are rough to the touch. The Wild Medlar has green to white to creamy yellow flowers from September to November, often appearing before the new leaves. The flowers are clustered on the small twigs and the petals disappear fairly quickly. Fruit is borne from summer through to autumn. The fruit is plum shaped with a leathery feel and has a pithy flesh that tastes somewhat like apples. In rural areas the fruit is treated as a delicacy and it’s packed with Vitamin C. It is a favourite snack for birds and animals alike when it ripens from yellow to brown. To this day, people utilize the fruit to distil the home-brewed fire-water called ‘mampoer’. The wood was never extensively used as the indigenous people believed that it was possessed by evil spirits.
Although fairly slow growing, the tree can form an attractive specimen tree in your garden. It is hardy, once established, and looks very attractive in a rockery where height is needed. The Wild Medlar will grow in almost any type of soil, as long as it is well drained and can be planted in semi-shade or full sun.