Quince (Cydonia oblonga) is a small deciduous fruit tree native to Western Asia. The fruit look similar to pears and usually require cooking. It can form part of the low tree layer in a forest garden, in a range of climates.
Background Information[edit | edit source]
Taxonomy[edit | edit source]
Family: Rosaceae (the "Rose Family")
Species: C. oblonga
Previously also termed Pyrus cydonia or Cydonia vulgaris, this is the "European quince" (or sometimes called "true quince"), not to be confused with the 3 species in genus Chaenomeles ("Flowering Quinces"), namely C. cathayensis, C. japonica and C. speciosa; or with Pseudocydonia sinensis ("Chinese Quince"). All of these used to be included in Cydonia, but now C. oblonga is the sole member of the genus. Another unrelated plant is Aegle marmelos ("Bengal Quince" or "Bael").
Common names[edit | edit source]
- Common Quince
- European Quince
Etymology[edit | edit source]
Plural of quoyn, via Old French cooin from Latin cotoneum malum / cydonium malum, ultimately from Greek κυδώνιον μῆλον, kydonion melon "Kydonian apple". This was because the ancient Greeks associated the tree with Kydonia (now Chania) on the island of Crete. This also gives name to the genus.
History[edit | edit source]
Quince has been cultivated for over 2000 years in the Mediterranean, but never very widely grown. The ancient Greeks imported grafts for their native quinces from a superior strain in Crete.
In Greek mythology, the 11th labour of Heracles was to steal the Golden Apples of the Hesperides. According to some these golden apples were quinces. Similarly some believe that the golden apple awarded to Aphrodite was a quince.
Earliest recorded cultivation in Britain is from 1275. Commonly grown to make quince marmalade in 16-18th centuries. Peak of cultivation in 18-19th centuries, then popularity declined due to increasing availability of other imported fruits.
Varieties[edit | edit source]
- "Agvambari" – small fruit, reliable cropper in good conditions.
- "Champion" – (USA) Early -Mid season. Large, greenish-yellow fruit. Flavour delicate, only slightly astringent. Heavy cropping. Tree vigorous. Crops at young age.
- "Krymsk" ("Aromatnaya") – (Ukraine) Round, golden fruit, soften when ripe. Partial resistance to quince leaf blight.
- "Leskovac" – (Serbia) heavy cropper. Fruits at early age. Resistant to quince leaf blight.
- "Serbian Gold" – (Serbia) newer variety. Heavy cropping, healthy and suitable for cooler parts of UK.
- "Meech’s Prolific" – (USA) Early season. Golden-yellow. Flavour sharp, good-excellent. Fruit store well. One of the heaviest cropping in UK climate. Prone to quince leaf blight. Vigorous, but slow growing. Crops at young age (3 yrs). Commonly available.
- "Portugal" ("Lusitanica") – (UK) Early ripening. Large, bumpy fruit with downy covering. Flavour mild, juicy, v tasty, excellent. Vigorous tree, but light cropping. Slow to start cropping. Less hardy than other varieties. Particularly irregular + unruly growth habit.
- "Vranja Nenadovic" – (Serbia) AGM* V Large, irregular yellow fruits. Flavour v good, excellent, fragrance strong. Probably the best choice for UK climate. Light to good cropping. Crops early in life. Suitable for fan-training. Commonly available. 
* The Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit is based on assessment of the plants' performance under UK growing conditions. It is awarded to outstanding plants deemed to be very easy for amateur gardeners to grow, performing reliably and being relatively resistant to pests and diseases.
Characteristics[edit | edit source]
Range[edit | edit source]
Iran, Iraq, North Caucasus, Tadzhikistan, Transcaucasus, Uzbekistan
Albania, Algeria, Austria, Baleares, Bolivia, Bulgaria, California, Canary Is., Cape Verde, Connecticut, Corse, Cyprus, Czechoslovakia, East Aegean Is., El Salvador, Eritrea, Ethiopia, France, Free State, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Guatemala, Gulf of Guinea Is., Hungary, Illinois, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kriti, Krym, Lebanon-Syria, Libya, Madeira, Maryland, Masachusettes, Morocco, New York, New Zealand North, Ohio, Ontario, Pennsylvania, Portugal, Romania, Sardegna, Sicilia, South Australia, Spain, Switzerland, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkey-in-Europe, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Vermont, Yugoslavia
[Source: Plants of the World Online]
Morphology[edit | edit source]
Growth Habit[edit | edit source]
Reproduction[edit | edit source]
Self fertile (but growing different cultivars nearby is said to improve cropping).
Requirements[edit | edit source]
Hardiness[edit | edit source]
Soil Type[edit | edit source]
Soil pH[edit | edit source]
Slightly acidic soils preferred. Alkaline soils can cause leaf chlorosis.
Shade Preference[edit | edit source]
Shade Tolerance[edit | edit source]
Aspect[edit | edit source]
Exposure[edit | edit source]
Cultivation[edit | edit source]
Relatively easy to grow. Cultivars selected for fruiting are usually grafted onto rootstocks:
- Quince A – normally used.
- Quince C
Planting[edit | edit source]
Plant bare rooted stock in autumn or winter. Potted stock can be planted year round. Allow 4-4.5m (12-15’) between trees. Growing 2 different cultivars nearby to each other may improve cropping (unproven).
Forest Gardening[edit | edit source]
Companion Planting[edit | edit source]
Allelopathy[edit | edit source]
Propagation[edit | edit source]
Maintenance[edit | edit source]
Little required once established. Occasional feeding (especially in poor soils). Mulching.
Watering[edit | edit source]
Pruning[edit | edit source]
Fruits on naturally forming spurs and at tips of one year old shoots. Normally grown as a bush or half standard, can also be trained as a fan or palmette against a wall (potentially useful for colder areas). Quince is difficult to prune as a fan due to unruly growth habit. Natural form is an untidy multistemmed tree, becoming more dense over time. Regular thinning improves fruiting. Instructions to create a bush form follow. Aim is to create a clear trunk of ~1-1.2m (3-4’). Half standard pruning is same as for a bush but with a longer clear trunk established during formative pruning. Suckers should be removed regularly. Otherwise, pruning always carried out during winter when tree is dormant.
Formative pruning: In the first winter, prune central stem to 90cm (3’) from ground, just above a healthy bud (just above the desired height of the future clear trunk). Prune upper laterals by 2/3 of their length above an upward facing bud. Aim to keep 3-5 upper laterals which will form the form the main branches of the tree. Remove entirely any laterals arising from the stem less than 60cm (2’) from ground. To create a half standard, the leader can be trained vertically against a bamboo cane.
Second winter: shorten leading shoot to 1.2m (4’) from ground, just above a strong lateral. Prune branch leaders and laterals by 1/3 to an outward facing bud. Shorten any strong vertical shoots to a bud that will grow away from other branches.
Third winter and each winter until established: remove growth that crosses other shoots or grows in an undesirable direction. Keep centre of the bush open, and never prune too hard in any one year (avoids vigorous regrowth).
Once established, in winter: thin out congested spur systems, removing older and less productive sections to make space for younger growth. Tip prune branch leaders to stimulate spur formation on young wood. Not every year, remove an older branch, particularly low down on the trunk or at the centre of the tree, and spur prune a proportion of new upright shoots to 2-3 buds.
Problems[edit | edit source]
Relatively untroubled by pests and diseases.
- Fungal diseases: (mainly brown rot), commonly affect quinces. Late in season, ripening fruit develop sunken, brown rotting patches with concentric white rings (spores). Remove and destroy affected fruit, and fallen leaves in autumn. Fungal leaf spots.
Harvest[edit | edit source]
In warm temperate and tropical climates, quinces ripen fully and become soft and juicy. In climates such as the UK, the fruits do not fully ripen and must be “bletted” (essentially slightly rotten) before it is edible (for some). Most people prefer to cook it.
Most quinces ripen during Oct-early Nov (in UK). Meech’s Prolific, Champion and Portugal slightly earlier. Fruits turns from greener shade to a more golden-yellow shade the riper it gets. Leave the fruit on the tree as long as possible to improve flavour, but harvest before first frost. Some advise to cut the fruits from the tree to avoid damage to fruit and to small branches (fruit lacks clear abscission layer). Fruit are firm when harvested (In UK), but bruise easily. Only pick undamaged fruit.
Preservation[edit | edit source]
Lay fruit in a single layer, not touching each other. Use trays and keep cool and dry (e.g. in a shed). Ideal conditions 32-40oF at 80-90% humidity. Can keep for 2-3 months, sometimes until Spring. If stored near apples or other fruits those will get a quince flavour.
Uses[edit | edit source]
- Edible fruit -- see cooking below
- Rootstock -- Sometimes quince rootstocks are used to create dwarfing pear trees. These are subject to high rate of graft failures because of imperfect compatibility.
Cooking[edit | edit source]
Virtually anything that can be done with apples can also be done with quince, e.g. stewed, baked, fruit butter.
Add recipes or links here
- Quince Jelly
- Quince Marmalade
- Quince Vodka
- Quince Apple Sauce 
Nutritional Values[edit | edit source]
Leaves and seeds contain hydrogen cyanide. Excessive consumption may cause vomiting, coma or death depending on dose.
References[edit | edit source]
- Plants for a Future (2013). Edible Trees : 50 Top Trees From Plants For A Future. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. ISBN 9781493736102.
- Campbell-Culver, M (2014). The Origin of Plants. Random House. ISBN 9781473509320.
- Crawford, M (2015). Trees for gardens, orchards and permaculture. Permanent Publications. ISBN 9781856232166.
- Pike, B (2011). The Fruit Tree Handbook. Green Books.
- Plants of the World Online.
- Brickell, C; Royal Horticultural Society (2012). Encyclopedia of Gardening. Dorling Kindersley. ISBN 9781409364658.
- Brickell, C; Joyce, D (1996). The Royal Horticultural Society pruning & training : a fully illustrated plant-by-plant manual. Dorling Kindersley. ISBN 9780751302073.
- Titchmarsh, A (2008). The kitchen gardener : grow your own fruit and veg. London BBC. ISBN 9781846072017.
- Bubel, M; Bubel, N (1991). Root Cellaring: Natural Cold Storage of Fruits and Vegetables. 2nd Edition. Storey Books. ISBN 9780882667034.
- Hemenway, T (2009). Gaia's Garden: A Guide to Home-scale Permaculture. 2nd Edition. Chelsea Green Publishing Co. ISBN 978-1603580298.