Quince, (Cydonia oblonga), a small tree or shrub of the rose family (Rosaceae), grown for its edible fruit. Quince is the only member of the genus Cydonia and is native to Iran, Turkey, and possibly Greece and the Crimean Peninsula. Quince can refer to both fruiting and ornamental plants. Edible quinces (Cydonia oblonga) produce fruit akin to apples and pears while ornamental quinces (Chaenomeles) are grown for their spring flower displays.
The fruit has a strong aroma and is astringent in the raw state but makes an excellent preserve and is often used to give flavour and sharpness to stewed or baked apples. The flesh takes on a pink colour when cooked, giving an attractive colour to jellies and conserves. They bear large, solitary, white or pink flowers that are similar to those of the pear or apple but feature leafy calyx lobes and a many-celled ovary. The fruit is a golden yellow pome and may be round and flattened or somewhat pear-shaped.
Table of Contents
12 - 15 feet
9 - 12 feet
6.5 - 7.0
Growth Nutrition of Quince
A 5-2-6 fertilizer formula is ideal for the quince tree as it has just enough nitrogen to help the tree develop foliage and additional potassium for the tree's flowering and fruiting.
Varieties of Quince Fruit
There are several different quince tree types, varieties and cultivars that you can choose from to add this interesting tree and tasty fruit to your garden and kitchen. When very ripe, these fruits can be eaten raw, but most are too hard and should be cooked first. They can also be used to make jellies because quince is packed with pectin.
Here are some kinds of quince:
Orange: Most varieties of quince are cultivars of the species Cydonia oblonga. One of these is ‘Orange,’ and it produces a round, very fragrant fruit with an orange-tinted flesh. This is one of the softer quince fruits, so if you want to try eating quince raw, this is the way to go.
Cooke’s Jumbo: This cultivar produces pretty white-pink flowers in the spring, and a fruit that is large and pear shaped. ‘Cooke’s Jumbo’ is best used for baking, poaching, and making preserves and jellies.
Champion: The ‘Champion’ cultivar is well known among quince enthusiasts for a delicate and lemon-like flavor. The fruit is pear-shaped and has a fuzzy golden skin. It produces fruit later in the fall.
Pineapple: A popular cultivar, ‘Pineapple’ is named for its flavor. The aroma and taste is very similar to pineapple. This tasty quince is used for baking and cooking and is one of the most commonly grown cultivars.
Rich’s Dwarf: For a smaller tree that produces a large fruit, go for ‘Rich’s Dwarf.’ This cultivar produces a large fruit, but on a dwarf tree that will only grow to 8 or 10 feet (2-3 m.).
Flowering Quince: Another species of tree that is called quince is flowering quince, Chaenomeles speciosa. The most characteristic aspect of this tree is its bright, flame-colored flowers. The fruit is not as notable as those of C. oblonga, which is why most gardeners choose it for the ornamental blooms.
Portugal: It is known for turning an attractive red color when cooked.
Smyrna: It has light brown fuzz covering yellow skin. 'Smyrna' is known for its tender interior and large size. The mid-fall quince is one of the low-chill varieties.
Karp's Sweet: It is not as astringent as other varieties and can be consumed raw.
Van Deman: It is an early-fall quince variety with orange skin and somewhat grainy flesh. 'Van Deman' requires more chill hours than 'Orange.'
Quince trees have near-relatives in ornamental shrubs that are known as flowering quince (Chaenomeles speciosa) and Japanese quince (Chaenomeles japonica). Like fruiting quince, flowering and Japanese quince produce fruits. These slightly edible fruits are not to be confused with the fruit most commonly known as quince, from the Cydonia oblonga trees. Flowering quince and Japanese quince are low-growing shrubs, notable for their early-blooming flowers. They're available in a variety of bloom colors.
Planting and Growing Quince
Best Climate and Site for Growing Quince
Quince commonly grows in Zones 5 to 9. Quince is hardier than peach but less hardy than a pear; it belongs to the same botanical subfamily as the pear.
Plant quince in full sun.
Plant quince in compost-rich, well-drained soil with a soil pH of about 6.5, slightly acidic.
Plant quince in a warm, sheltered spot close to a wall where it will receive reflected heat. Avoid planting quince in low spots where frost and cold air settle.
Quince is self-fertile. One plant will produce fruit.
Space quince plants 10 to 15 feet apart.
Quince can be planted any time during the growing season but it’s best to avoid planting in hot, dry weather. Early spring planting, while the plant is still dormant, is optimal.
Prepare a planting site in full sun that is sheltered from a prevailing breeze or wind.
Work well-rotted compost or manure into the soil.
Dig a hole half again as deep and twice as wide as the plant’s roots. Add a cupful of all-purpose fertilizer to the bottom of the hole.
Set the plant in the hole so that the soil mark from the nursery pot on the stem is level with the surrounding soil. Remove all twine and burlap from balled and burlapped trees. Spread the roots out in all directions.
Re-fill the hole with half native soil and half aged compost or commercial organic planting mix; firm in the soil so that there are no air pockets among the roots. Water in the soil and create a modest soil basin around the trunk to hold water at watering time.
After planting, water thoroughly with a high-phosphorus liquid starter fertilizer.
Container Growing Quince
Quince can be grown in a container 18 inches deep and wide or larger.
Plant trees in a commercial organic potting mix.
Keep the soil evenly moist but not wet.
Feed quince growing in containers with an all-purpose fertilizer that is slightly higher in potassium.
Repot the tree after two years into a container that is 24 inches wide and deep.
To keep quince small, prune the top and roots each winter
Quince Tree Care
Full sun is best to produce the best blooms and fruit and prevent disease, but some partial shade can be tolerated.
Keep the soil around the quince tree well-drained, slightly moist, never completely dry, and be sure it is composed of a mix of organic content. Quince trees prefer acidic soil but will tolerate very low alkalinity. Basic soil will lead to iron deficiencies.
Quince trees are not incredibly drought-tolerant and can only endure one or two weeks without water while establishing. Give your tree a deep watering every two weeks to once a month, depending on temperature, at other times. Insufficient water results in fruit drop. Overwatering can lead to the onset of fire blight.
Temperature and Humidity
Quince trees can withstand cold temperatures as low as -15o F and thrive in USDA Zones 5-8. Fruit left on the tree during the cold weather will ripen and will become sweeter in a process called bletting.
Fertilize only once a year during the winter, applying a slow-release Low nitrogen fertilizer with micronutrients under the canopy. High nitrogen content and providing too much fertilizer will invite disease into the tree.
Training and Pruning Quince
Quince is commonly trained as a shrub, but it can be trained as a small tree.
In the first year, prune quince to an open center shape by cutting back the central leader to about 24 inches; select scaffold branches; trim these back to two buds and remove all other branches.
Established quince plants don’t need much pruning. Prune in winter to keep the plant open to sunlight and air; remove any broken or diseased branches.
Quince fruit primarily on the tips of growth from the previous summer; prune quince like tip-bearing apples. If side shoots are less than 9 inches long, they can be left unpruned; these shoots will bear flowers and fruit at the end of the growth the next season. Longer side shoots should be pruned back to about 6 inches long.
Head back branches that tend to droop and become leggy. Also, remove suckers growing from the roots.
Black knots on trunks and branches are natural; they should not be removed.
Quince fruits are usually not thinned unless there is an extra-heavy crop.
Quince can be propagated from seed, layering branches, or root cuttings. Cultivars can be grafted onto quince rootstock.
Harvest and Storing Quince
Quince bear fruit three to four years after planting.
Pick fruits in autumn when they are aromatic and full-colored. The fruit is ready for harvest when skins lose their greenish-yellow color and become golden yellow or orange. The aroma of quince becomes more pronounced as it matures.
Harvest fruits before they drop and before the first frost. Use a pruner to cut fruit from the plant with an inch or two of stem attached.
Handle ripe fruit gently. Quince fruit is hard but it bruises easily.
Quince will store 2 to 3 months at temperatures near freezing with high humidity. Store quince in a cool place separate from other fruit; the strong aroma of quince can taint other fruit such as pears and apples.
Store quince in a shallow tray so fruits do not touch.
The wool on the skin rubs off easily; do not rub off the wool unless preparing fruit for immediate use.
Quince is rarely eaten raw. Quince is delicious cooked; it is most often used to make jelly, preserves, or marmalade.
Quince Problems and Control
Fire blight is a serious bacterial disease that infects plans via their flowers. It is spread by rain or irrigation water splash. Prune out infested shoots immediately and put them in the trash.
Brown rot is a fungal disease that causes the fruit to turn brown and rot in patches. Pick off and destroy all infected fruit; prune away stems that have become infected.
Powdery mildew is a fungal disease that leaves a white powdery coating of mildew on leaves. Remove and destroy infected leaves; spray with a fungicide.
Quince leaf blight is a form of fungal leaf spot; red-brown spots on leaves; leaves then wither and die. Prune out affected leaves and stems and place them in the trash.
Fruit may crack or split if a period of drought is followed by wet weather; rot may then develop.
Benefits of Quince
Ripe quince fruit is a rich source of Vitamin C, contributing nearly 25% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA). Vitamin C helps to boost immunity and aids in the treatment of inflammatory conditions. It also possesses anti-allergenic properties. The fruit and its seed extract can be used to treat atopic dermatitis and cystitis. It can also be used in the preparation of food products for allergy sufferers.
Good For Weight Loss:
Quince fruit is low in calories but high in dietary fiber. A 100 gram serving of fresh raw quince fruit contains just 57 calories. It is also low in saturated fat, sodium and cholesterol. All these qualities make it an amazing choice for weight loss and overall health.
The phenolics present in Chinese quince have been found to be effective in relieving gastric ulcers. Quince juice is also beneficial for people suffering from gastric ulcers. It also helps in the treatment of peptic ulcers as it soothes the gastrointestinal tract.
Treats Stomach Ailments:
Quince is an effective remedy for morning sickness. Quince, when mixed with honey, can help treat colitis, diarrhea, constipation, and intestinal infections. Quince syrup is used to treat hemorrhoids.
This fruit boasts of amazing antioxidant properties due to the presence of poly-phenolic compounds. These antioxidants fight off the free radicals present in the body, slowing down the aging process as well as preventing cardiovascular diseases and strokes.
Treats Nausea And Vomiting:
Boiled or baked quince relieves nausea and vomiting. Being a good diuretic, it helps to remove fluid build up.
Research has shown that quince fruit is rich in anti-viral properties. The phenolics found in Chinese quince possess strong anti-influenza activity as well as antioxidant properties. It helps protect against colds, flues and other viral pathogens.
Lowers Blood Pressure:
Being rich in potassium, quince fruit helps keep high blood pressure in check.
Lowers Cholesterol Levels:
Regular consumption of quince fruit helps to lower LDL or bad cholesterol in the blood, keeping the heart healthy.
The antioxidant properties of quince help the body fight against free radicals and destroy malignant cancer cells. The granules in the pulp of quince fruit contain astringent compounds known as tannins i.e. catechin and epicatechin. These tannins protect your mucous membranes from cancers by binding to cancer-causing toxins and chemicals in the colon.
The various antioxidants in quince help in relieving stress and maintaining a calm mind.
Treats Liver And Eye Diseases:
Regular consumption of quince is beneficial for those suffering from liver and eye diseases. In China, the soaked and boiled seeds of quince are used to prepare a jelly, which can soothe eye problems, sore throats and inflammation of the mucous membranes.
Benefits Of Quince Seeds And Oil:
Quince seeds are effective in curing hoarseness of the throat and trachea as well as other ailments. Its oil prevents sweating, fortifies the heart and strengthens the liver and stomach.
Quince juice is helpful in the treatment of cardiovascular diseases, respiratory ailments, anemia, and asthma. Regular consumption can help in the treatment of tuberculosis, dysentery and hepatic insufficiency too.
Quince has been used as an herbal medicine since ancient times.
Fruit and its juice are used as a mouthwash or gargle to treat mouth ulcers, gum problems and sore throats.
Quince is used in the cosmetic industry and for medicinal cosmetics.
Unripe fruit is very astringent; syrup made from it is used in the treatment of diarrhea and is particularly safe for children.
Leaves contain tannin and pectin. Tannin can be used as an astringent.
Stem-bark is astringent and used for ulcers in Chinese herbal medicine.
Quince leaves are used as decoction or infusion, in folk medicine for their sedative, antipyretic, anti-diarrheic and antitussive properties and for the treatment of various skin diseases.
Quince is very widely used as rootstocks for pears and is also suitable for loquat.
Quince fruit because of their strong and rich fragrance was once popularly used as room deodorizers.
Quince are roasted, baked or stewed or processed into jams, marmalades, pastes, jelly and quince pudding.