Where do quinces grow?

Plant of the Week: Quince, Flowering (Japonica)

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Flowering Quince, Japonica
Latin: Chaenomeles speciosa

Like most rural areas, Arkansas country folk have been moving closer to larger cities so they can support their families. This exodus from the land is not a new phenomenon, having started over a century ago.

The nation’s farm population peaked in the 1890s and has been declining ever since. In the spring, it’s easy to spot these old homesteads because a few of the plants that adorned their dooryard gardens still remain. One of the most lasting is a shrub they called Japonica.

More sophisticated gardeners know this plant as Flowering Quince (Chaenomeles speciosa), but old timers still call it Japonica. It’s a round-topped, deciduous shrub growing 6 feet tall and 10 feet across. These old plants become a tangle of branches, but they persist for years without benefit of pruning. Flowering quince produces stout thorns and, at one time, it was common to see hedges made from it.

In late winter, usually well before it’s safe to do so, it begins opening a few blossoms to test the weather. Full bloom is in early March, about the time forsythia flowers. These abandoned shrubs almost always have single, pinkish-orange blossoms that are about the size of a quarter. Newer forms are often double flowered with blooms in shades of pink, red or white.

Flowering quince, provided the flowers are not killed by a late freeze, will produce a hard, ugly, pear-like fruit. These tart fruit can be used in jelly making, but are usually produced erratically and in small numbers so few jelly makers ever get good at perfecting their art.

Quince foliage emerges maroon-green in the spring just as the flowers are fading. A pair of prominent leaf-like stipules flare out from the base of the petiole. Quince foliage, though is often short lived. Leaf diseases cause defoliation, and oftentimes the shrubs retain only a few leaves at the ends of branches by August. But, even though early defoliation happens most years, the shrub is incredibly tough and persists without any particular problem.

Name changes have plagued this plant from the beginning when it was first described by Carl Thunberg in his 1784 Flora Japonica. Because of the many stamens and the showy blossoms, Thunberg first classified the plant as a kind of pear.

In 1796, a closely related Chinese species was introduced to England and thought to be the same as Thunberg’s Japanese plant. By the 1830s, this Chinese “Japonica” had become common in gardens throughout England and had been imported to the United States. The true Japanese “Japonica” was not introduced to England until 1869. Since then the two species have been hybridized to create the more than 150 cultivars known to exist.

Why Japonica should become so popular across rural parts of the United States requires a bit of speculation on my part. These hardscrabble farmers were, by necessity, very frugal; but the lady of the house still had an eye for adornment. A shrub that was beautiful, as well as held the promise of producing jelly for the table, would be easy to justify. Also, because it produced a thicket of branches from the ground, it became a popular pass-along plant.

Flowering quince is often dismissed by garden writers because it has such a short period of effective display. Ten days to two weeks is about all you get. But, if you have a sunny spot and want a shrub that will outlive you, it is a good choice. Some of the best modern cultivars include ‘Texas Scarlet’, a 3-foot tall plant with tomato-red blooms; ‘Cameo’ a double, pinkish shrub to five feet tall; and ‘Jet Trail’, a white to 3 feet tall.

By: Gerald Klingaman, retired
Extension Horticulturist – Ornamentals
Extension News – March 19, 2004

The University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture does not maintain lists of retail outlets where these plants can be purchased. Please check your local nursery or other retail outlets to ask about the availability of these plants for your growing area.

Gardening Answers Knowledgebase

Knowledgebase record #668 PAL Question

We have a quince bush and we’d like to make quince jelly, but the fruit this year was very small and seedy. We made some jelly, but with the seeds mixed in, since there wasn’t much fruit outside the seed part. Last year, I think we had more quinces and they were larger. We also have a very old pear and an apple tree, and they both had less fruit this year too.
Is there anything I can do to get more fruit from the quince bush? Should it be cut more? Or less? More water? Fertilizer?

Answer

Is your quince bush the ornamental quince, botanical name Chaenomeles, or the edible quince, Cydonia oblonga? The fruit of ornamental quince is edible, but tends to be less known for its flavor than that of Cydonia oblonga. To help you determine which quince you are growing, take a look at the following information.

A local gardener’s website, Paghat’s Garden, describes ornamental quince and the use of this plant’s fruit:
“Having been developed for the pre-spring and early spring flowers, not all these shrubs fruit well. But there are also a few cultivars developed in northern Europe with fruit production in mind. Generally the market-variety quinces are trees of a different genus altogether, namely Cydonia oblonga. But species of Chaenomeles were formerly categorized as Cydonia, and their tart fruits are also edible.”
Plants for a Future Database also describes ornamental quince.

There is an essay on edible quince (Cydonia oblonga) by Joseph Postman in Arnoldia (Harvard Arboretum publication), vol. 7 no. 1, which includes some cultural information. The amount of fruit production may vary depending on weather and other environmental conditions.

There are also discussions on the difference between the edible and ornamental quinces and their fruit, such as this one from University of British Columbia Botanical Garden, excerpted here:
“The big fuzzy fruit are the real quinces (Cydonia) and is the only member of its genus. The flowering quinces (eg., Chaenomeles) were once classified with the Cydonia quince trees. I think some Chaenomeles were called ‘Japonica’, but the ‘flowering quince’ name seems the norm now. Unfortunately the abundance of chaenomeles, and use of the name ‘quince’ for the Chaeonomeles contributes to the under appreciation of quince tree and its fruit.”
Another excerpt, from a nursery source:
“Like apricot and peach pits, European quince seeds contain cyanide… Most people know that they must never cook apricot or peach pits when making jam or jelly, but most do not know that this also applies to true quince seed. Although often called Flowering Quince, Chaenomeles japonica is a very different plant, and it is these fruit that most North Americans are familiar with, although the flavour of the fruit is nowhere near as rich and aromatic as that of the true quince. The seeds of the flowering quince are not particularly dangerous, and may be cooked with the fruit, but I still would not recommend doing so.”

Cornell University also discusses the difference:
“Don’t confuse these quinces with several other quince-like species grown for ornamental purposes. There are many varieties of Japanese quince (Chaenomeles japonica) and common flowering quince (C. speciosa, C. lagenaria), attractive shrubs bearing showy pink, red or orange flowers in early spring.
Most of these ornamentals produce fruits that are hard and nearly inedible, though they have a high pectin content and are occasionally mixed with other fruits in jellies and preserves.”

Sometimes, weather conditions conspire to create a smaller yield of fruit in a given year. You might have had fewer bees and other pollinators. There could have been rain or cold weather and frost at the same time that the plant was in flower, and this could have disrupted pollination. Other factors might be a change in the amount of sun exposure, or an excess of nitrogen-heavy fertilizer which will result in lots of leafy growth and few flowers and fruit.

Keywords: Cydonia oblonga, Chaenomeles
Date: 2008-10-22

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Common Quince, Cydonia versus Flowering Quince, Chaenomeles

Michele Warmund
University of Missouri
(573) 882-9632

Published: September 27, 2018

Figure 1 Flowering quince (Chaenomeles speciosa) shrub in full bloom.

Figure 2 Fruit of common quince (Cydonia oblonga) tree.

Baffled by the quinces? If so, you are not the only one, as these genera have confused plant collectors for years. The jumble of names began in 1784 when botanist Carl P. Thunberg saw a flowering quince growing in Japan. Thinking it was a new type of pear tree, he named it Pyrus japonica. In 1807, Christiaan H. Persoon noticed that fruit of this plant had many seeds so it did not belong to the genus Pyrus. Thus, flowering quince became known as Cydonia japonica for a while. However, in 1822, John Lindley created the genus Chaenomeles to distinguish the flowering quince, which had stamens in two rows, from Cydonia with stamens in one row and also had different fruit anatomy. Perhaps, an easier way to distinguish these genera is that Chaenomeles is usually planted as an ornamental shrub with showy flowers (Figure 1) whereas Cydonia oblonga is grown for its fruit (Figure 2).

Today, Cydonia oblonga or the common quince is sold as a grafted tree, reaching about 15 to 20 feet-tall at maturity. Flowers are borne on the terminal portion of new growth and are usually self-pollinated. Trees are commonly trained to a vase shape and require little pruning when mature except for the removal of suckers. Because trees are susceptible to fire blight, they require light nitrogen fertilization to avoid excessive vegetative growth. The fruit is aromatic, yellow, and relatively large, about 3.5 to 4.5 inches long (Figure 1). Because of the fragrant fruit, these trees attract deer. The cultivar ‘Jumbo’ has white-fleshed fruit whereas ‘Orange’ has more rounded, orange-yellow flesh. ‘Pineapple’ has white flesh with a pineapple-like flavor, and ‘Smyrna’ has pink flowers and fruit with waxy, yellow skin. Raw quince fruit is bitter and acidic, but it sweetens and is more palatable when cooked, especially when poached. It is also used in jellies, tarts, or pies. Quince is also used to impart unique aromas, desirable bitter flavor, and astringency to fermented or hard cider.

Cydonia oblonga has also been used as a dwarfing rootstock for European pear planted at high density. ‘Comice’ pear trees grafted onto quince rootstock begin bearing fruit at a young age and have regular cropping with good fruit size and quality. However, quince rootstock has poor compatibility when grafted with ‘Bartlett’ or ‘Bosc’ pear.

Figure 3 Fruit of flowering quince (Chaenomeles speciosa) shrub.

Flowering quince, Chaenomeles speciosa, is a much more common shrub in the home landscape, ranging from three to five feet tall. These plants have tangled branches that produce showy flowers for about 10 to 14 days in early spring. Flowering quince shrubs are drought resistant and cultivars with brightly colored blooms cultivars attract hummingbirds. Plants are often damaged by rabbit feeding, but are not particularly attractive to deer. Some of the more popular flowering quince cultivars are the Double Take series developed by Tom Ranney and his group in North Carolina, including ‘Scarlet Storm’, ‘Orange Storm’, ‘Pink Storm’, which have thornless branches, double flowers, and do not produce fruit. Cultivars with spines on branches, such as ‘Texas Scarlet’ with red flowers, ‘Toyo-Nishiki’ with white, pink, and reddish blossoms, and ‘Jet Trail’ with white flowers, usually produce small (1.5 inch-long), sparse fruit that may be used for jelly (Figure 3).

Demystifying The Quince

Laura McCandlish for NPR Laura McCandlish for NPR

Get recipes for Quince Paste, Vegetarian Quince And Parsnip Medley, Quince Pip Tea For A Sore Throat, and Quince Tarte Tatin.

Until recently, I had never seen a fresh quince. I knew quince paste, or membrillo, from Spanish cheese plates. I knew that Korean friends boiled down quince juice into a tea.

However, since moving to Oregon I’ve found quinces at the local farmers market and even growing on trees in my neighborhood. In fact, it turns out that the most diverse quince grove in North America, if not the world, thrives at a U.S. Department of Agriculture gene bank just down the road.

Still, close proximity to quinces doesn’t necessarily give you the nerve to try the rock-hard, acerbic fruit. But last spring, I had my quince revelation. Just one bite of the tangy, poached morsel on a charcuterie plate had me counting the days until this fall’s season.

In late September, I huddled beside our market director, staking my claim on her orchard’s first-to-ripen crop. She even spikes her apple cider with quince.

I began more humbly, slipping the peeled fruit into a pie. With their beguiling fragrance and subtle flavor, quinces naturally partner with their more universally beloved pome sisters, apple and pear.

A quince is a fruit of contradictions. It’s generally too astringent to eat raw, yet it smells so guava-sweet. Its white, dry, hard flesh blushes and softens, without turning mushy, when cooked. It has tough, waxy skin that bruises more easily than you’d think.

Revered since antiquity, quinces are still treasured all over the globe. With their high pectin content, quinces lend themselves to jellies, pastes and preserves. The word marmalade, after all, derives from the Portuguese name for quince.

In the United States, quinces were common in the garden and in the kitchen from colonial days through the 19th century, until the advent of commercial gelatin and pectin. Americans instead turned to sweeter, eat-out-of-hand fruits.

About The Author

Laura McCandlish is an Oregon-based freelance writer. She contributes to The Oregonian’s FOODday section and hosts a monthly food show on Portland radio station KBOO. She blogs at baltimoregon.com.

Now, underground enthusiasts are reviving the nostalgic fruit, hoping quince can resurge just like once-forgotten rhubarb. A motley tribe recently gathered here in Corvallis for an “unappreciated fruits” event. Home orchardists and horticulturalists, members of Slow Food USA’s endangered foods board, and Lebanese and Iranian natives longing for quince, their grandmother’s stewing staple, rounded out the crowd.

One key question divided the devotees: Can a quince be eaten raw? Yes, evidently — depending on the variety. That weekend, we walked among the hundred or so clones at the USDA orchard, sampling some quite palatable ones from their native Caucasus region. They tasted juicy and crisp, with notes of raspberry and star fruit. No chalkiness. On hand was famed fruit sleuth and food writer David Karp, who advocates biting right into the sometimes elusive, sweeter-fleshed quince. He hopes an apple-like variety brought here from Peru will soon be tested and rolled out for commercial cultivation.

Many fans agree with cookbook author Barbara Ghazarian that the quince is “the quintessential slow food,” whose magic is only revealed through cooking. She just published a culinary tome devoted to the forbidden fruit (botanists believe the quince, not an apple, was Eve’s true Garden of Eden temptation). Drawing on the recipes of her Armenian ancestors, Ghazarian includes savory preparations, such as lamb-stuffed quince dolmas and a sweet-tart quince and parsnip stew.

She, like many chefs, recommends poaching quinces over a low flame for several hours. Try simmering slices of them in a sweetened white wine syrup (think Riesling), with a touch of vanilla bean and citrus zest. Reusing the poaching liquid for subsequent batches only intensifies the sections’ ruby color. Cooking the quince coaxes out the anticarcinogen anthocyanins, those purple pigments also found in berries. These jewels then caramelize when baked into a tart.

By now you’re thinking, great, you live in the Mediterranean-like Willamette Valley, where quinces flourish. Where can I buy them? Try upscale grocers and ethnic markets, which ship them in from California. The San Joaquin Valley grows most of the country’s quinces, primarily the most common Pineapple variety, on a scant couple of hundred acres. That’s all we demand.

But first, search for ones from your local apple or pear vendor. They’re readily available at farmers markets in the East. Unfortunately, quinces fall prey to fire blight in humid parts of the country. More ubiquitous are flowering quince shrubs, a different genus from the fruit-bearing Cydonia oblonga. They do, however, produce small pomes that can be substituted in some recipes.

With a season that runs through December, quinces make an aromatic holiday centerpiece. How can you tell they’re ripe? Rubbing off their fuzz should reveal a bright, yellow peel. Better yet, just follow your nose. A quince’s perfume should fill a room.

Quince Care – Tips On How To Grow A Quince Tree

If you’re looking for an ornamental flowering tree or shrub that produces fragrant fruit and looks good throughout the year, consider growing quince. Quince trees (Cydonia oblonga) were popular during colonial times but eventually fell out of favor because they offered no immediate gratification–you couldn’t eat them right off the tree.

Interest in the fruit has revived somewhat thanks to improved varieties that can be eaten fresh, but quinces are such a minor player in the agricultural economy that the U.S. Department of Agriculture doesn’t track them. For those that are interesting in growing quince, however, it helps to know more about good quince care to get the most from your plant.

What is Quince Fruit?

Quince is a very fragrant, yellow fruit used to make jams and jellies. Quinces vary in shape. Many are the shape of an apple, while others resemble a pear.

Are fruits on flowering quince edible? Yes. The fruit on a flowering quince is edible, but the fruit on a flowering or Japanese quince is extremely tart.

While you can use them to make jams and jellies, you’ll get much better results from a quince that was bred to produce fruit. Grow flowering quince if your goal is to produce an outstanding display of pink, red or orange flowers in early spring. Otherwise, choose a modern cultivar developed for fresh eating.

How to Grow a Quince Tree

Quince trees are hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture zones 5 through 9. Growing quince trees isn’t that difficult as long as you can provide appropriate conditions. Choose a sunny location with fertile soil. Quinces adapt to wet or dry soils but perform best when the soil is well-drained.

You will also need to plant two trees for good pollination.

Quince Care

Quince trees have some drought tolerance, but you should water them during prolonged dry spells as part of your routine quince care. It is hard to overwater a quince tree, so water them any time if you are in doubt.

Fertilize with a low-nitrogen fertilizer in spring. Lawn fertilizers and other high-nitrogen plant foods encourage lush foliage and new growth at the expense of flowers and fruit.

Quinces are small trees with a good natural shape that is easy to maintain. Shape a young tree by removing all but five main branches from the canopy so that you won’t have to do any heavy pruning when the tree is mature. Remove dead, diseased and damaged branches as they appear.

How to Grow Quinces

Days to germination: Trees are started from saplings
Days to harvest: 3 years
Light requirements: Full sun
Water requirements: Regular watering
Soil: Fertile soil, even with clay
Container: Somewhat suitable

Introduction

The quince is closely related to both the apple and the pear, and has a fruit that does look like a combination of the two though noticeably larger than either. A quince fruit can easily reach 6 inches in length.

The fruit is much more common through South America, Europe and the Middle East than it is in North America. You can grow quince between zones 4 and 9, as they can tolerate freezing temperatures during the winters as long as the flowers aren’t hit with a late hard frost.

Quince fruit is very tart and sour even when mature, and is seldom eaten raw though it does sweeten up if left to get soft after picking. Cooked dishes as well as jams and marmalades are the more common uses for quinces. They are high in fiber, vitamin C, antioxidants and magnesium.

Starting your Tree

When buying a quince sapling, take care not to just buy a flowering quince. They are bred for their spring blossoms and won’t produce a reliable crop of fruit. You need to get a quince variety that is intended for fruit production, such as Champion, Cooke’s Jumbo or Giant of Zagreb.

Choose an open location that can accommodate a 20-foot high tree at maturity. The crown will also be about 15-feet across once it reaches full size. The soil should be loose but a quince tree can tolerate having wet roots so even a location with poor drainage may suit.

The quince is a self-fertile plant, so you will get a crop of fruit even if you only plant one. Trees will produce more fruit if they have been cross-pollinated with at least one other tree though.

Tree Care

Quince trees aren’t huge, and thankfully won’t need all that much pruning to keep them in fruit-growing shape. The branches naturally grow spread apart without a lot of crowding. Each spring, before the new growth starts, prune out any dead branches and any that have grown to the point where they are rubbing on another branch (only 1 of 2 crossed branches should be cut off).

During the first year or two, cut back much of the new growth in the spring, keeping the tree down to 4 or 5 main branches. This will help get the roots established and create a good foundation for future branch growth. After that, you can let it grow as it pleases.

You can fertilize your tree each year but only with a low-nitrogen mix, or you will severely reduce your fruit production. Water your trees whenever you have a dry spell in the weather. They are not bothered by water-logged soil so there is little risk of over-watering quince trees.

Containers

Since quince have naturally shallow roots, they may survive fine in large containers (at least a half-barrel in size). True dwarf quinces are not common since the tree is naturally quite small, compared to many other fruit trees.

If constrained to a pot, quinces may grow as a bush rather than a true tree.

Pests and Diseases

The biggest disease threat to quince trees is fire blight, which also effects apple and pear trees. It primarily attacks the new buds each spring, and they turn black and die off. You can usually see a brown seeping in any infected twigs.

It can be difficult to get rid of, but if you cut away infected branches immediately, it can help. Blight usually doesn’t kill the tree right away, so you may have a year or two to combat it without losing the tree. The next spring, spray the trees with a Bordeaux spray to keep the bacteria out of the new buds.

Apples and pears have blight-resistant varieties, but there really isn’t any such thing for quinces. With a little perseverance, you can usually overcome the disease though it may be a constant battle if its a problem in your area.

Besides diseases like blight, the quince is actually relatively free from other pest problems. There are no specific insects that target these plants, though any leaf-eating beetle or caterpillar can do damage in the leaves. If you see the silky “tents” of the tent caterpillar, either cut the branches off or burn away the webbing to keep the caterpillars from doing extensive damage to the leaves when they emerge.

Harvest and Storage

Quinces will get softer after the first frost, but they also damage easier during picking so most people try to harvest their mature quinces before that. If they are going to be cooked anyway, most will pick them before the frost just to make picking easier. For raw eating, after the frost will work better. Not only will they be softer, but sweeter as well.

Since the fruit is hard at maturity, the best way to tell when its ready to pick is the color. Quince should be a uniform light yellow color when picked. If you pick quinces before they are mature, they will not ripen or soften further so there is really no point picking young fruit.

Hard quinces will store in the fridge for a week or two, but their strong smell can make everything else smell like a quince. If you have a spare fridge, you might want to store your fruit there. Otherwise you might want to keep them in a tightly sealed plastic bag, which can hasten their spoiling due to moisture build-up so you should add a paper towel help keep them dry.

Because they do smell so strongly after they mature, it’s a common practice in some countries to leave a few out in a bowl to freshen the air.

Once established, a quince tree will give you fruit for around 30 years and it takes about 3 to 4 years before your tree will start bearing fruit for you.

  1. Denise Allitt Says:
    October 31st, 2011 at 7:24 pm

    Hi – I’m in Australia but my problem may be a common one. If my quinces grow to maturity (they often don’t) they go balck at the ends as they ripen and this usually spreads up the whole fruit. Is there anything I can do to stop this.

    much thanks denise

  2. jesse Says:
    November 11th, 2011 at 6:00 pm

    hi i live in idaho and love quince fruit. have one little quince tree with about 20 fruits. is been getting cold at night and dont know if i should pick the fruit yet before they freez. love to eat them raw. thanks.

  3. Frank Jones Says:
    August 7th, 2012 at 4:43 am

    I have a few plants I grew from seeds. Some leaves turn brown and plant dies. Can you tell me what I need to do?

  4. Judie Eaton Says:
    September 25th, 2012 at 9:04 am

    We have had 4 quince bushes for at least 10 years. They have grown from about 1 1/2 feet tall to at least 7 feet. They look healthy. We have had a lot of blooms but this is the first year to have fruit. We have 4 quince. I need at least 8 lbs to make quince jam. Which by the way is just delicious. What can we do to make them blossom and produce fruit. We have driven all over central NY looking for them, but no one knows where there are any.

    Thank you in advance for your assistance

    Judie Eaton

  5. Rita in Ohio Says:
    October 10th, 2012 at 2:15 am

    I too love Quince! If you only have a small amount of the fruit, experiment with “jam” without measuring…core, chop (peel only if desired) and cook in a stove top pan or bake, with some water and desired amount of sugar (you might need lots) until pink and caramelized. The natural pectin makes it thick and spreadable…Fantastic on toast or with cheese, like brie.

  6. Dee Says:
    March 17th, 2013 at 12:08 am

    Hello Denise,
    I don’t have much experience growing the Quince fruit, but I have had this problem that you mentioned with apples and the Bartlett pear.

    What you are experiencing is the the disease {Fire Blight} which is generally deadly to your trees. It can be caused by over watering so well as by birds who have stopped at a tree which has the disease and then lands on your tree. Some trees that are susceptible to this disease is the Mock Pear Tree {only an ornamental tree}, most of the apples and pears. You can prevent this <maybe, by keeping the growing area clean no dead leaves on the floor, Keep the tree properly fed with citrus, fruit, avocado and nut fertilizer.

    If you see that the branch tips have these black leaves, cut them about 2 inches from sound wood, please do not handle the bad leaves and dip your trimmers in acohol or bleach after each cut. Do carry a plastic bag to immediately throw the cut damaged branches in it; do not touch any part of the tree once you have handled the damaged leaves actually you should wear gloves in case you do need to handle the sound portions of the tree. Even though I disinfect my trimmers I use only these cutters for this purpose and never for any other plant or tree especially Roses. Once done, I keep a metal can where I burn the leaves or just keep them in the plastic bag, rebag the bag and thow it in the trash can. I rather burn them, though. If your neighbors have infected trees do tell them they may not be aware of this very bad plant illness. They’ll thank you for it. I had to tell a neighbor and he was able to save his “Mock Pear”.

    Good luck,
    -Dee

  7. Dee Says:
    March 17th, 2013 at 12:13 am

    Hello Denise,
    I don’t have much experience growing the Quince fruit, but I have had this problem that you mentioned with apples and the Bartlett pear.

    What you are experiencing is the the disease {Fire Blight} which is generally deadly to your trees. It can be caused by over watering so well as by birds who have stopped at a tree which has the disease and then lands on your tree. Some trees that are susceptible to this disease is the Mock Pear Tree {only an ornamental tree}, most of the apples and pears. You can prevent this, maybe, by keeping the growing area clean no dead leaves on the floor, Keep the tree properly fed with citrus, fruit, avocado and nut fertilizer.

    If you see that the branch tips have these black leaves, cut them about 2 inches from sound wood, please do not handle the bad leaves and dip your trimmers in acohol or bleach after each cut. Do carry a plastic bag to immediately throw the cut damaged branches in it; do not touch any part of the tree once you have handled the damaged leaves actually you should wear gloves in case you do need to handle the sound portions of the tree. Even though I disinfect my trimmers I use only these cutters for this purpose and never for any other plant or tree especially Roses. Once done, I keep a metal can where I burn the leaves or just keep them in the plastic bag, rebag the bag and thow it in the trash can. I rather burn them, though. If your neighbors have infected trees do tell them they may not be aware of this very bad plant illness. They’ll thank you for it. I had to tell a neighbor and he was able to save his “Mock Pear”.

    Good luck,
    -Dee

    P.S. disinfect all utensils including your gloves.

  8. Gary Nichter Says:
    October 25th, 2013 at 8:09 am

    In response to Judie Eaton’s inquiry about where to get Quince fruit: I live in Lancaster NY (Near Buffalo) and have a Flowering Quince tree in my backyard. In the spring there are small red flowers that bloom. This year it produced 20 or so fruit that are round, green, hard as a rock and bitter as bitter gets…and as my Uncle Norm used to say: “And I don’t mean MAYBE!!!” Anyway, all but 5 are still on the tree and the rest are already on the ground (except the one that I tried to eat…that one I threw as far as I could throw it!). Next year, I’d gladly send you the fruit so that you could make Jam or Marmalade. No fee; free shipping. I hate to see food go to waste. Up until I read your message, I didn’t consider those food! [email protected]

  9. Yvonne Botha Says:
    January 21st, 2014 at 10:10 pm

    Is there an inseciside that I can use to spray on
    the quinces to prevent them from getting rotten inside. The quinces look good from the outside but when they are ripe enough to pick they are already infested by some insect which seems to work from the core of the fruit.
    It will be appreciated if you can give me advice as the fruit will be ready to pick as they are already starting to yellow.
    Thank you for your input.

  10. rose meeks Says:
    February 26th, 2014 at 9:48 am

    Denise thanks for the information i too have a quince tree and needed some advice to treat my quince thanks.

  11. aurelia phillips Says:
    June 1st, 2014 at 10:56 am

    my quince has amazing output – even though it is a medium size tree, got over one hundred quince last fall. I am rebuilding my fence though and just hit root…..it is about the size of my thumb and am so worried about harming the tree – any advice!?

  12. simon Says:
    June 1st, 2014 at 4:12 pm

    Is there an inseciside that I can use to spray on the quinces to prevent them from getting rotten ins inside . The quinces look good from the outside but when the are ripe enough to pick they already infested by some insect which seems to work from the core of the fruit

  13. Abha H Says:
    February 28th, 2015 at 7:11 pm

    Raintree Nursery in Morton, WA sells a good variety of bare root quince trees–both for fruit production and flowering ornamentals.

    They ship all over the country.

  14. Don B Says:
    June 6th, 2015 at 2:38 pm

    I’m growing a Smyrna Quince here in Connecticut purchased from Trees of Antiquity in 2012–it is bearing its first crop–8 quinces if they all make it–this year.

    People asking about insecticides can simply follow a good spray regime for apple trees like this one:

    Similar schedules can be found on a number of university extension sites and you ideally want to follow one for areas close to your location since that will match up with the insects and disease threats you will encounter. I use Captan to ward off Quince and Apple rusts in the spring (the first spring I didn’t and lost half the new branches), and Monterey Garden Insect spray (an organic product based on Spinosad) to deal with things like Codling moths and Apple maggots.

    Note: “Flowering Quince” with their lovely pink blossoms are not the same as the yellow edible quince fruits we’re interesting in. My quince, like others of its kind, has two inch wide, pink-blushed white blossoms that appear at the ends of new growth after the first leaves have formed.

  15. Mackenzie Says:
    October 9th, 2016 at 3:53 pm

    I’m growing a quince tree from the seeds. I planted them sometime last fall, around a year ago, but in a pot. It’s looking really great, very green, more bush form — I guess because it’s in a pot. Should I bring it inside for the winter? And should I move it to a bigger pot soon? Or plant it in the ground? Very new to this. Let me know.

  16. Lara Says:
    January 9th, 2018 at 12:06 pm

    Mackenzie, what hardiness zone are you in?

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QUINCE TREES FOR THE UK GARDENER

Article by David Marks
Quince trees originate from Iran and Turkestan and although they need warmth and sun to fully ripen, many varieties also grow best in moist ground.

In the UK they are best left to ripen until early October for their flavour, and more particularly aroma, to develop fully. First frosts are the limiting factor, so we would recommend that they are not grown in cooler areas. In general the South and Midlands will have a satisfactory climate but they will struggle to develop fruit fully in cooler Northern areas.

REASONS FOR GROWING QUINCE TREES

Here’s a bullet point summary, in no particular order, of the reasons for growing a quince tree:

  • They produce an edible fruit which is not normally found in UK gardens
  • Quince fruits are rarely sold in supermarkets and where they are, the price is very high compared to more common apples and pears.
  • How far back they date is not known for certain but some religions believe that it was a quince fruit which Eve used to tempt Adam, so you can be sure that you are growing a tree of great antiquity.
  • The form and size of a quince tree is within the bounds of most gardens. The tree bark and branches begin to look old and interesting after only a few years. The have very attractive flowers in May time.
  • Quince trees can grow unpruned after the basic branch structure has been established. They naturally grown into an open centered shaped and the branches quickly take on an appealing slightly twisted form.
  • In most of the UK the fruit is not usually eaten raw but is used to make jellies, jams and added to fruit pies. Apple pie with small amount of quince in it is a delight and changes the flavour and aroma (for the better) noticeably.
  • They have a high pectin content and help many jams to set well. Added to a punch drink they are delicious and will have drinkers scratching their heads to pinpoint the source of the pineapple-type flavour and aroma.
  • They produce attractive light pink, open flowers in April / May time which have a definite scent.
  • Quince are long-lived trees and will crop well for fifty years or more.

QUINCE TREES AND ROOTSTOCKS

If you grow a quince tree on its own roots it will grow to about 5m / 16ft tall and about the same width. This is too large for most gardens and makes picking the fruit difficult. To curb the size of a fully grown quince tree they are most commonly grown on Quince A or C rootstocks. Quince C rootstock will give you the smallest tree but they have difficulty in growing in poor soils.

For most gardens Quince A rootstock is probably the wisest choice. Left unpruned the trees will grow to about 3m / 10ft high after 15 years or so. They can easily be pruned to keep them to a height of 2m / 7ft.

HOW TO GROW AND CARE FOR QUINCE TREES

Quince trees are in general problem free (leaf blight aside) and once established require minimal attention. They will require staking for the first three years if grown on Quince A rootstock or for life if grown on Quince C rootstock.

They don’t need pruning each year although it’s fine to do that if you want to keep them in shape. When you do prune them remove any crossing branches and also any damaged or diseased ones. Prune when they are dormant in mid-winter.

Close up of Quince fruit

Many Quince varieties are self-fertile (i.e. will produce fruit as a single tree) and one tree will quite happily produce fruit on its own. Fruit will be produced on three to four year old trees and and cropping will be at its maximum on a five to six year old tree. All quince trees are deciduous (loose their leaves in winter).

They grow best in full sunshine. Most of the commonly available varieties prefer a moist soil which is well drained and they do better than most other fruit trees in ground which is damp. A mulch in spring time each year will greatly help to retain moisture in the surrounding ground.

HOW TO HARVEST AND RIPEN QUINCE

In all but the warmest parts of the UK quince fruits need to be cooked before eating. They are best left on the tree until just before the first frosts of the season, October time is normally about right for harvesting.

Many gardeners leave the fruit to fall from the tree, only harvesting them direct from the tree if an earlier frost threatens. This allows the fruit to ripen naturally but they can easily be bruised when they fall which damages the fruits.

Harvest the fruit and store carefully (to avoid bruising) in a cool area for three to four weeks before using them. This can be light or dark, it makes no difference to the ripening process.

RECOMMENDED VARIETIES OF QUINCE TREE

CHAMPION QUINCE

One of the best varieties for the UK climate and well suited to moist and dry soils. The pink blossoms are produced freely in April / May time and are particularly attractive. The fruits are slightly larger than average and have a good flavour somewhere between mild lemon and pineapple. The skin has a definite “fur” to it. This variety is self-fertile and will produce fruit as a stand alone tree.

Champion variety of Quince

We recommend buying this variety on Quince A rootstock. The GardenFocused approved supplier is Victoriana Nursery.

Click on the banner above to buy the Champion quince tree from our recommended suppliers of this tree, Victoriana Nursery. We have negotiated a 10% discount on everything you buy from them which will be automatically applied at their checkout.

PORTUGAL

It is included here because it has the best flavour of all the quinces for jams, marmalades and jellies. This variety is not however as hardy as most other varieties and only grows well in the warmest parts of the UK. They tend to crop earlier in the season, mid to late September. Portugal quince trees are known to take a couple of years longer to begin producing fruit and miss fruiting in some years.

Grow in a protected position because the tree itself is vulnerable to frost damage. It also grows more strongly than other varieties in the correct conditions and will therefore need regular pruning if space is at a premium. Portugal is only partially self-fertile and will definitely produce more fruit if there is a nearby pollination partner.

QUINCE PESTS AND DISEAES

BROWN SPOTS ON LEAVES

This is the most common problem with quince trees and is called leaf scab (Diplocarpon mespili). It is a fungal infection which causes lots of small brown areas on the leaves, these may join together to form larger brown areas. In some cases the fruits are also marked in a similar way.

Quince Leaf Spot (Scab)

All the chemical sprays previously available for this fungal infection are now withdrawn in the UK. The best course of action is to pick up and burn all fallen leaves in October / November. The fungus over winters on fallen leaf debris. It also thrives in damp summers so may not always be as much of of a problem in dry years.

If you take the action above, a healthy Quince tree affected by leaf scab will still produce a good amount of fruit.

BROWN ROTTING OF FRUIT

The signs of Brown Rot are:

  • The skin of the affected quince fruit will have grey, small raised bumps on it
  • If you cut into the quince, the flesh will be discoloured and rotting where the bumps are most numerous
  • The fruit will shrivel and fall off.

The sooner you take action the better chance you have of minimising the damage. See here for more specific details about brown rot of plum trees which is the same for quince trees.

Quince Trees or Cydonia Oblonga

Quince or Cydonia Oblonga, to give it its full botanical name, is a heritage fruit tree that is slowly but surely finding its way back to Britain’s gardens, where its pretty blossoms, versatile fruit and good autumn colour offer multiple seasons of interest. As medium-sized cultivars, quince trees grow to be around 3 to 4.5 metres tall once fully mature. Even though it is quite lovely when enveloped in pink-tinged flowers during the spring, quince is at its best in the autumn. Contrasted by warm hues of yellow, orange and red of the foliage, golden-yellow, knobbly, apple-like fruits steal the spotlight.

Quince Tree with fruits in Autumn – Cydonia Oblonga Robusta

The rustic, charming appeal of this deciduous tree makes it a beautiful addition to any landscape, but interesting looks are not all this lovely cultivar has to offer. Cydonia Oblonga is mainly grown for its aromatic fruit, which can be made into delicious jams, jellies, or even brandy. A tree of ancient origin, Quince has been cultivated and used since ancient times.

Origin and History of Cydonia Oblonga

The sole species in the genus Cydonia, the quince tree is known to have been cultivated in ancient Babylon. This heritage cultivar was prized for its fruit, above all, which was believed to have medicinal properties and treasured as the main ingredient of many traditional desserts. In Ancient Greece and Rome, Cydonia Oblonga was connected to the goddesses of love, Aphrodite and Venus, and its fruit was given to couples on their wedding day, to sweeten their breath, and as a symbol of good luck and fertility.

It is believed that the first Cydonia Oblonga cultivars came to Britain with the Romans, but the first cultivation to ever be recorded was in 1275, when King Edward I planted quince trees at the Tower of London.

Since The Middle Ages, the quince tree became a staple of many courts, where cooks transformed this lovely fragrant fruit into desserts fit for royalty.

Historically, marmalade was made only from quinces. The English word “marmalade” comes from the Portuguese word marmelada, meaning “quince preparation,” a remnant of times when only the noble quince fruit was turned to delicious spreads.

Today, all over the world, quince desserts remain a true delicacy. For example, in Spain and its former colonies, quince is cooked into gelatin-like blocks or firm reddish paste, called dulce de membrillo, and it is often served traditionally during the Christmas holidays. In the Balkans, these golden-yellow fruits are used to prepared so-called “quince cheese,” a sweet, thick jelly. Quince is particularly treasured across the region for its role in making quince brandy, an aromatic alcoholic beverage.

Even though you can find quince trees for sale in the UK, it is very rare to find quince fruit in our markets and the best way to ensure your supply is to grow your own Cydonia Oblonga. So, which Quince variety should you choose for your garden?

Quince Trees For Sale UK- Choosing The Right Variety

Cydonia Oblonga is often confused with ornamental quince trees, mainly the flowering varieties such as Japanese Quince (Chaenomeles Superba) or Chinese Quince (Pseudocydonia Sinensis). But even though undoubtedly striking, these trees do not produce quince fruit for which Cydonia Oblonga was cherished through history. Here are some true, fruiting quince trees we offer for sale. These varieties are fully hardy in the UK and are reliable performers in the garden:

Cydonia Oblonga Vranja
Coveted for its strong, upright habit, Quince Vranja produces large, striking fruits. This cultivar also won the prestigious Award of Garden Merit by Royal Horticultural Society.

Cydonia Oblonga Rea’s Mammoth
Quince Rea’s Mammoth, as the name suggests, is best known for the heavy crops of large fruits it bears, weighing at 350 to 600 grams each!

Quince Trees for Sale UK – these varieties are Rea’s Mammoth (left) and Portugal (right).

Cydonia Oblonga Portugal
The well-loved Portugal Quince is a heavy-fruiting cultivar, distinguished by its excellent flavour.

Cydonia Oblonga Ludovic
Vigorous and productive Quince Ludovic is ready for harvest in October through to November.

Quince Trees for Sale UK- pictured here is Ludovic variety.

Cydonia Oblonga Cydora Robusta
Quince Cydora Robusta is a variety bred specifically to produce a good crop of aromatic fruits that will keep for months if stored correctly.

Cydonia Oblonga Champion
True to its name, Quince Champion was created to perform splendidly in any garden, with particular resistance to wetter soils.

Quince Trees for Sale UK- this is one of the most popular varieties, Champion

Cydonia Oblonga Leskovacka
Late to flower, Quince Leskovacka is a reliable cropper, with large, fragrant fruits that can weigh between 300 to 500 grams each.

All of these cultivars share the same notable qualities, but each offers something distinctive. Even though quince trees are quite undemanding, whichever variety you choose to grow in your garden, you will need some tips and tricks on how to best care for quince trees.

Caring For Quince Trees

Quince trees offer much, but ask very little in return. Any position with plenty of sun and well-drained soil will be ideal for planting a quince tree. These robust, tough trees are adaptable and fully hardy in the United Kingdom, and do not require any special conditions to thrive.

Considered to be low-maintenance, this heritage tree needs very little care to stay in good health. If you grow quince as a standard tree or a large shrub, you should prune it in the winter, when it is in its dormant phase, to promote regular fruiting and remove any congested branches. Quince trees can be fan-trained, as well, in which case you should pay particular attention not to damage their fruiting spurs (they are tip bearers, so they will be located at the tips of the branches).

When it comes to its susceptibility to common plant problems, quince trees have a good track record as quite resilient. All quinces are self-fertile, which means they do not need a pollination companion, as they bear good crops on their own. In case you want to promote even heavier cropping, mulch and fertilise in the spring. The added boost will encourage your quince to flower and fruit more prolifically.

As decorative as they are useful, quince trees are primarily grown for the abundant crops of their pear-shaped, scented fruits. However, the attractive features of these trees also make them an excellent choice for a specimen tree in the garden, or to be planted in a container and used to bring incredible fragrance to your patio.

Quince

Quince – the fatter, uglier sister of the pear has come back into vogue in the last few years, thanks to a number of gourmet cooks and their delicious jams, pastes and desserts. It must be pointed out at this stage that uncooked quinces straight from the tree a darned near inedible…tough, stringy and a bit tart (a bit like my Aunty Beryl). To truly enjoy a quince, one must stew, cook, poach or slowly simmer the fruit for as long as possible, until the flesh changes to a stunning ruby red.

The quince (or Cydonia oblonga to those of us in the know) is a gorgeous deciduous tree growing to a respectable 4m x 4m in most residential settings. When thinking about a quince (which I am sure we all do often) it is important to remember that these trees are generally very long lived, and don’t take to kindly to being shifted, so plan your position well. A tree in the right spot will reward you with amazing, ancient-looking gnarled branches – a fabulous feature with or without the fruit!

The foliage is a stunner as well, with the green, heart-shaped leaves having a lighter, slightly furry underside. The beauty of growing a quince in the colder areas of Australia is that they can put on quite a show as the leaves colour through autumn. Oh, and they don’t mind periods of dry either…could this be the perfect plant?

Full sun is the order of the day for your quince, and, in our part of the world, protect these guys from frosts, as they just don’t like it and it can harm fruit set. Quinces adore a soil that has a fair bit of organic matter incorporated, so on our soils, grab some compost and prepare the hole before planting. A bit of a feed once or twice a year with some compost, aged manures or blood and bone is all a quince will need.

Pruning of quinces is much the same as for other deciduous fruit trees (think pears, apples etc) and the earlier in the quinces life you can establish a shape, the better. Pruning should be minimized as the quince gets older, as they fruit on the current season’s growth, and constant pruning may see a severe lack of fruity goodness.

If you are thinking of acquiring a quince, here is the quincessential guide to the varieties readily available at many nurseries:

Smyrna: This Turkish delight bears very large, golden yellow pear-shaped fruit on an attractive large shrub/small tree. The foliage is also quite large and very attractive. Cooked, Smyrna fruit is highly fragrant and quite firm, making it a great choice for pastes. A very popular quince with lovely flowers.

Champion: Born in the USA, this quince resembles a fat pear, the fruit a greenish yellow changing to golden when ripe. The colour of this fruit when cooked is amazing, the flesh tender, and the flavour milder than some other quince varieties.

Angers: An attractive, smaller tree (to around 2.5m), Angers is a French type Quince. The fruit is flavoursome, although a bit harder than some other varieties, but cooks well. One BIG advantage of this little tree is that the fruit stores for longer than most.

We have a Champion and a Smyrna quince trained along the edible alley wall. The Champion is in full glorious blossom, and the Smyrna is about to burst. This photo doesn’t do the blossom justice, truly, Quince blossom must be some of the most beautiful in the world. The bees are busy, so am hoping for some fruit this year. Fingers crossed. Click through for info on this wonderful fruit.

The Quince has come back into vogue. Maggie Beer’s quince paste re-introduced this fruit to Australia and it is now part of the culinary landscape once again. The quince (Cydonia oblonga) is a small deciduous tree growing to 4m x 4m. It can be planted just for it’s aesthetic value with perhaps the most beautiful blossom of any fruit tree and striking heart shaped leaves changing to gold and orange in autumn. The trees are generally very long lived, and don’t take to kindly to being shifted, so plan your position well. A tree in the right spot will reward you with amazing, ancient-looking gnarled branches – a fabulous feature plant with or without the fruit.

Quinces are very hardy little trees tolerating wet soils, as well as being somewhat drought tolerant. Regular watering, pruning, fertilising will see them set a heavy crop of fruit, and when the fruit are ripening they send a very distinctive and tantalising aroma wafting around the garden.

Pruning of quinces is much the same as for other deciduous fruit trees (pears, apples etc) and the earlier in the quince’s life you can establish a shape, the better.

If you are thinking of acquiring a quince, here is the quincessential guide to the varieties stocked here at BAAG:

Angers: A smaller tree with a very vigorous root system (often used as root stock for grafted pears) has the smaller leaves of the French varieties. The fruits are slightly smaller and harder than other varieties, but cook down beautifully in the traditional quince manner. The fruit keeps longer than other varieties and the tree will set a heavier crop with cross pollination.

Champion: Born in the USA, this quince resembles a fat pear, the fruit a greenish yellow changing to golden when ripe. The colour of this fruit when cooked is amazing, the flesh tender, and the flavour milder than some other quince varieties.

De Bourgeaut: A French variety with large pear shaped fruit. Vigorous upright tree with very large leaves. The blossom is large, pale pink and highly ornamental. The late maturing fruit has classic downy skin and greeny yellow flesh cooking to a lovely deep colour. Tart and rich flavour.

Fullers: Developed in the USA in the 1860s. Regular bearer and a strong grower. Matures march – April
One of the largest sized quinces with a pleasing pear shape and a clear bright lemon-yellow colour. Flesh is tender with a rich aromatic flavour and pale pink colour when cooked. Medium vigour, spreading, medium to large leaves. Flowers mid season.

Orange quince: Bears heavily with large, bright yellow pear shaped fruits that are flavourful and aromatic. A small spreading tree with multiple trunks valued for its fruit and its beauty. Tolerates extreme cold and prefers moist heavy soils.

Pineapple: Very old variety, vigorous growing tree, extra large leaves, fruit harvests late and has very nice flavour with a pineapple like aroma, useful baking, jams, and makes a terrific quince jelly, profuse ornamental blossom. These will cook up to a lighter colour than other quinces.

Smyrna: This Turkish delight bears very large, golden yellow pear-shaped fruit on an attractive large shrub/small tree. The foliage is also quite large and very attractive. Cooked, Smyrna fruit is highly fragrant and quite firm, make it a great choice for pastes. A very popular quince with lovely flowers.

Van Deman: Matures April
Wining the Wilder medal in 1891 and developed by Luther Burbank in California, this quince remains hugely popular with an almost cult following. Medium to large fruit with an oblong/squat shape, bright yellow colour, but most importantly, cooks down to an orange pulp with no grit and a wonderful aromatic spicy flavour.
Matures late, extending the fruiting season. Pale pink flowers (early flowering, late fruiting) and medium sized leaves. Starts fruiting early in its life.

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