In ancient times, every country house had at least one medlar tree in its courtyard because it was believed that they kept witches away and brought good luck. Peasants also used the tree to mark the passing of the seasons, because the medlar was the first to bloom and the last fruit to ripen, and a good flowering was considered to be a good omen of a rich and abundant harvest. Medlars are roundish, rust-brown in colour, and have a strongly acid taste. The fruits are not eaten straight from the tree, but become edible only after the sour pulp, rich in tannin, becomes brown, soft and sugary. The fruit must be left to mature in a dry place, traditionally on straw, and away from other fruits that give off ethylene, such as apples.