What Does a Quince Tree Look Like?

Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Ken Bosma

In the ancient civilizations of the Middle East and Greece, the quince tree’s fruit was important. In Colonial America, almost every middle-class family had a quince tree. But in the United States today, quince trees–scientific name Cydonia oblonga–and their fruit are far less popular.

Size and Shape

Quince plants can be grown as shrubs or as trees, reaching heights of 8 to 12 feet. Their branches are gnarled and twisted.

Leaves and Flowers

Quince leaves can be broad at the base and narrow at the tip, or they can be oblong. They usually measure about 2 inches wide by 4 inches long. The tree produces white-petaled flowers that measure about 2 inches in diameter.

Fruit

Unlike its relatives the apple and the pear, the quince tends to be hard and bitter and is usually cooked rather than eaten raw. Many jams, jellies and preserves are made from quince.

Varieties

Varieties of quince tree include Pineapple, Orange, Smyrna, and Van Deman. Each variety produces fruit of a slightly different shape, size and hue.

Harvesting

In California, quince of different varieties are harvested mainly in September and October.

Peach Diseases

Brown rot of peach.
Clemson University – USDA Cooperative Extension Slide Series

Growing quality peaches in the home garden can be very rewarding, but difficult, unless a rigid pest and disease control program is maintained. This publication focuses just on disease issues. Reduce diseases by:

  • Providing proper growing conditions and planting recommended varieties as indicated in HGIC 1354, Peach & Nectarine.
  • Using good sanitation practices. Remove all dead branches and mummified fruit from the trees and the ground. Keep the area around the trees free of weeds and plant debris, such as leaves and twigs.
  • Following a spray program that begins with dormant sprays and continues through the growing season.

Brown Rot

Brown rot is one of the most common and serious diseases affecting peach fruits. It is caused by the fungus Monilinia fructicola, and can also infect flower blossoms and shoots. The disease begins at bloom. Infected flowers wilt and turn brown very quickly. Shoot infections (usually from flower infections) result in small (1 to 3 inches), gummy cankers, which provide the source of infection for fruit rot. Spores from infected flowers and cankers infect healthy green fruit during long wetness periods. Infected, fruit remain attached in the tree and provide an additional source of spores for more infections instead of dropping off in a normal fashion. Some infections only show when fruit begins to ripen.

Fruit rot starts with a small, round brown spot, which expands to eventually rot the entire fruit. Infected fruit turns into a mummy on the tree. The fungus survives the winter on fruit mummies (on the tree and on the ground) and twig cankers.

Prevention & Treatment: Collect and remove diseased fruit from the tree as it appears. Collect and dispose of any diseased fruit on the ground. In the fall remove all dried fruit mummies from the tree, since this is where the fungus survives the winter. During pruning in winter, remove all cankerous parts of the tree.

Clemson Fruit Bag developed for the home orchard and hobbyist fruit gardener.
Guido Schnabel, ©2015, Clemson University.

Spray during full bloom and two subsequent sprays at 10 to 14 day intervals to prevent infections of flowers and young fruit. Fungicides are also required when fruit ripens. It is important to begin spraying in 7 day intervals (typically, three times until harvest) when fruit turns color from green to yellow and red. Starting a spray program when rotten fruit is already evident will result in poor disease control. Select a fungicide containing captan, or propiconazole that is labeled for use on peaches. See spray schematic for peaches below. These fungicides are only effective if a complete and thorough coverage of the tree(s) can be obtained. See Table 1 for examples of brands and specific fungicide products. Always apply all pesticides according to directions on the label. There is a minimum of a one day pre-harvest interval for these fungicides (that is, the time between spraying and harvesting).

Though products are available at gardening stores for homeowners, many gardeners are not inclined to use pesticide applications for home fruit production. Instead, hobbyist gardeners may use bags to protect fruit from pests and diseases. Clemson University has tested and is promoting the use of specialty bags that, if used properly, allow for production of high quality fruit with very little pesticide input. The bags are recommended for use in a three step fashion: (i) properly take care of your trees to minimize tree stress; (ii) protect your fruit from pests and insects between bloom and the day of bagging; and (iii) enclose nail-sized, green fruit (typically 3 weeks after bloom) with a specialty bag to be removed at harvest. For purchase information and use instructions please see: Clemson Fruit Bags or simply google this page using the key words “Clemson Fruit Bags”.

Although all varieties can be infected, there are some (such as ‘Contender’) that are very tasty and do have some resistance. DO NOT GROW NECTARINES. They are VERY susceptible.

Peach Scab

Peach scab, also known as “freckles”, is caused by the fungus Cladosporium carpophilum. Disease symptoms occur on the fruit as small (less than ¼ inch in diameter) velvety dark spots and cracks. In cases of severe infection, spots may join together to form large dark lesions. Leaf infection is usually not observed. Twig infections occur on the current year’s growth and are light brown after 30 to 70 days, before later enlarging and becoming dark reddish brown the next season. Spots on the fruit only occur on the outer skin. Peel fruit to remove all traces of the disease.

Peach scab.
Clemson University – USDA Cooperative Extension Slide Series

Prevention & Treatment: Most varieties are susceptible to scab, although some are more severely affected than others are. Generally, scab is most severe the first year the trees bear fruit, since a large number of twig lesions can develop during the first two growing seasons when no fungicides have been used. Minimize infection by selecting planting sites that are not low-lying. Trees should be properly pruned to allow good air circulation. This helps to promote rapid drying of the leaves, fruit, and twigs.

Periods of rain with temperatures of 65 to 75 ºF are optimal conditions for infection. Fungicides can provide adequate control of this disease if applications are properly timed. If disease control is desired, apply captan, myclobutanil, or wettable sulfur. Make five applications starting at full bloom at 10- to 14-day intervals. See spray schematic for peaches below. See Table 1 for examples of brands and specific fungicide products. Apply all chemicals according to label directions.

Bacterial Spot

This disease is caused by the bacterium Xanthomonas campestris pv. pruni, and affects peach fruit and leaves. Infected leaves develop small reddish-purple spots that often have a white center. In advanced cases, the inner portion of the spot often falls out, giving the leaf a “ragged” or “shot-hole” appearance. Infected leaves turn yellow and drop from the tree. Lesions on fruits appear as small dark spots, which become larger and crater-like as the fruit grows. These lesions are generally shallow but can be ¼-inch deep. They do not develop the velvety spots of scab. Peeling the fruit will remove most traces of the disease.

Prevention & Treatment: This disease is difficult to control, and chemical sprays are not practical for the home gardener. Varieties are available that are moderately resistant, but not immune. These varieties are ‘Ambergem’, ‘Belle of Georgia’, ‘Cardinal’, ‘Cherryred’, ‘Dixired’, ‘Candor,’ ‘Chalenger’, ‘Carolina Gold’, ‘Norman,’ ‘Loring,’ ‘Bisco’, ‘Southhaven’ and ‘Red Haven’ in a yellow peach, and ‘Southern Pearl’, ‘White County’ and ‘White River’ in a white peach. Bacterial spot is usually more severe on poorly nourished trees or where nematodes are a problem, so proper cultural care is important.

Peach Leaf Curl

The peach leaf curl fungus, Taphrina deformans, can infect peach leaves, flowers, and fruit. Infected leaves pucker, thicken, curl and often turn red. Infected leaves eventually turn yellow and drop from the tree. Severe leaf drop can weaken the plant and reduce fruit quality. Fruit symptoms of raised, wrinkled areas, are often overlooked.

Prevention & Treatment: Control is impossible after the symptoms are visible. Fungicides applied before bud break give good control. Usually one dormant application is sufficient. This spray application must be at least a week following a dormant horticultural oil spray for scale and mite control. If disease has been severe enough in the past to warrant chemical control, choose chlorothalonil or a copper fungicide. See Table 1 for brands and specific fungicide products. Apply all chemicals according to directions on the label.

Gummosis

This disease can kill branches or trees and is caused by the fungus Botryosphaeria dothidea. Earliest symptoms appear on the young bark of vigorous trees as small blisters, usually occurring at lenticels. Infection occurs late in the season, and may be apparent in the fall or the following spring. Some infected areas exude a gummy resin. Trees that are two or three years old often have sunken diseased areas (cankers) apparent on the trunk and major branches. Large amounts of gummy exudate, or gum balls, are associated with lesions at multiple sites. After repeated infections, the bark becomes rough and scaly.

Prevention & Treatment: There is no practical chemical control available. Keep trees healthy, since the most severely infected trees are water-stressed. Dead wood should be removed during winter pruning, and destroyed. When pruning during the summer months, remove and destroy all pruned wood. Where gummosis is present, use of captan or myclobutanil for scab control is the preferred treatment. See Table 1 for brands and specific fungicide products.

Powdery Mildew

This disease is primarily a problem on green peach fruit, but can also occur on leaves and young shoots. It appears as a powdery white coating on infected surfaces, and new shoots and leaves may be distorted. It is caused by the fungus Sphaerotheca pannosa. Young fruit develop white, circular spots that may enlarge. Infected areas on fruit turn brown and appear rusty. Symptoms usually occur on green fruit and disappear as the fruit develops.

Prevention & Treatment: Provide good air circulation to peach trees by thinning trees and following proper pruning practices. This disease occurs frequently when roses are nearby. Sprays with either myclobutanil, or boscalid & pyraclostrobin can be used for powdery mildew control. See Table 1 for brands and specific fungicide products.

Crown Gall

This disease is caused by a soil-inhabiting bacterium, Agrobacterium tumefaciens, which infects many ornamentals in the home garden. The symptoms are rough, rounded galls or swellings that occur at or just below the soil surface on stems or roots. Young galls are light green or nearly white in color. As they age, the galls become darkened and woody and range in size from small swellings to several inches across. The galls disrupt the flow of water and nutrients traveling up from the roots and stems, thus weakening and stunting the top of the plant. Occasionally, the disease becomes systemic and the galls are seen above the ground.

Prevention & Treatment: There are no chemical controls available for crown gall in the home garden. For new plantings select disease-free plants that have no evidence of galls. The bacteria enter through fresh wounds, so avoid injury to the roots and crown (base) during planting and cultivating. Remove infected plants as soon as galls are observed. Disinfect all cutting and pruning tools that have been used near crown gall. To disinfect tools, dip them for several minutes in a solution of one part household bleach to nine parts water.

Phytophthora Root & Crown Rot

Root and crown rots are very important diseases that affect stone fruits. Trees often die within weeks or months of the first symptoms, but in other cases the decline is gradual, occurring over several growing seasons. The disease is caused by fungi in the genus Phytophthora, and is most severe in areas of poor drainage.

Infected trees have stunted shoot growth and leaves become sparse, small and yellow. Fruit will be small and sunburned. Shoot and scaffold limb dieback occurs as the disease progresses. Crown rot symptoms appear as black decayed areas on the root crown and/or trunk base near the soil line. Cankers that exude a gummy resin are often present. Root rot symptoms include few feeder roots being present with the remaining roots often decayed.

Prevention & Treatment: There is no chemical control available for crown and root rot in the home garden. The most important control strategy is careful water management. Try to plant your trees shallow, maybe even shallow on a 6” to 10” raised bed. Do not overwater trees. Select well-drained sites for planting, and improve drainage of the existing location.

Oak Root Rot

Initially trees infected with the oak root rot fungus (Armillaria species) appear slow in growth rate, have shorter terminals and take on an off-color green. As the root rot gets closer to the root crown, the whole tree or significant portions of tree can collapse anytime during the year. There are no root sprouts present. Removing the bark beneath the soil surface reveals a white mantle of mycelium between the bark and the wood. The wood remains firm and intact.

Prevention & Treatment: There is no treatment or prevention once the tree is in the ground. Do not plant where oak trees have been removed. Do not replant with a peach tree or a susceptible species. Again, planting the tree shallow on a raised bed will help extend tree life.

Peach Tree Short Life

This is a disease caused by the ring nematode, bacterial canker organism (Pseudomonas species), fluctuating winter temperatures, pruning the wrong time of year and poor horticultural practices. Trees suddenly collapse shortly after leafing-out or prior to leafing-out in the spring of the year. Removing a piece of bark from the lower trunk has a characteristic sour sap odor. The root system appears healthy and frequently puts up a flush of sprouts.

Prevention & Treatment: Prune trees only in February and early March. Adjust the soil pH to 6.5 prior to planting and lime regularly to maintain this pH after planting. Select sites that are on heavier soils and are well drained. There is no nematode control after planting for homeowners. Select peach trees that use the variety ‘Guardian’ for their rootstock. ‘Guardian’ is more tolerant of the ring nematode.

Do not replant old peach tree sites with new peach trees. Where ring nematode is present plant Stacey wheat as a winter crop and sorghum as a summer crop at least one year in advance and two years is preferred. Fertilize to maintain at least 18 inches of new terminal growth per year. Remove all dead wood and dying branches as soon as possible.

Note: Control of diseases and insects on large trees is usually not feasible, since adequate coverage of the foliage with a pesticide cannot be achieved. Prune peach trees to a height of 8 to 9 feet.

Spray Schematic for Peaches

Red arrows indicate important fungicide applications
Black arrows indicate optional fungicide applications
Note: Insecticides need to be added to each application, except during bloom.

Table 1. Fungicides Labeled for Peach Disease Control.

Pesticide Active Ingredient Examples of Brand Names & Products
Boscalid & Pyraclostrobin Bonide Fruit Tree & Plant Guard Concentrate (also contains Lambda Cyhalothrin – an insecticide)
Captan Drexel Captan 50W
Bonide Captan 50% WP
Southern Ag Captan Fungicide
Arysta Captan 50% Wettable Powder
Hi Yield Captan 50W Fungicide
Chlorothalonil1 Bonide Fung-onil Concentrate
Hi-Yield Vegetable, Flower, Fruit & Ornamental Fungicide Concentrate
Ferti-lome Broad Spectrum Landscape & Garden Fungicide Concentrate
Ortho MAX Garden Disease Control Concentrate
Tiger Brand Daconil Concentrate
Southern Ag Liquid Ornamental & Vegetable Fungicide Concentrate
Copper Fungicides Bonide Copper Fungicide (copper sulfate)
Monterey Liqui-Cop Fungicide Conc. (a copper ammonium complex)
Southern Ag Liquid Copper Fungicide (a copper ammonium complex)
Myclobutanil Spectracide Immunox Multi-Purpose Fungicide Concentrate
Ferti-lome F Stop Lawn & Garden Fungicide
Monterey Fungi-Max
Propiconazole2 Ferti-lome Liquid Systemic Fungicide II
Bonide Infuse Systemic Disease Control
Sulfur4 Bonide Sulfur Plant Fungicide
Ferti-lome Dusting Sulfur (also wettable for spray)
Hi-Yield Wettable Dusting Sulfur (also wettable for spray)
Safer Brand Garden Fungicide Concentrate
Southern Ag Wettable or Dusting Sulfur
1Do not apply chlorothalonil within one week before or after a horticultural oil spray application. The maximum number of applications of chlorothalonil is 3. For example, make one application at bud break, a second spray after 10 days if conditions favor disease (at full bloom), and a final spray at shuck split to prevent infections on young fruit. Do not apply after shuck split.
2Make no more than 4 applications of propiconazole; apply at 21 day intervals.
3RTS = Ready to Spray (hose-end applicator)
4Never apply a horticultural oil spray within 2 weeks of a sulfur spray, and do not apply sulfur when the temperature is above 90 °F or to drought-stressed plants.
With all pesticides, read and follow all label instructions and precautions.

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.

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.

Quince trees

How to choose Quince trees

Quince trees produce are versatile pear-like fruits used for culinary purposes – use them in the same way you would apples or pears. They are particularly good for preserves, and a small amount of stewed quince also gives an interesting lift to many apple-based recipes. The blossom and fruits are very attractive.

The quince originates from south-west Asia, but has been widely grown throughout Europe since classical times, and were introduced to England from France in the 13th century or earlier. The English word “quince” derives from the French word “cognassier”. Quinces were also established in the American colonies, and many of today’s quince varieties are American.

Quince trees prefer warm climates, as found in central Europe. They can be grown successfully in most of the milder areas of England, but to get the best yields it really helps to plant them in a sheltered spot in full sun with a south-facing aspect.

All quinces are self-fertile, so you only need to plant one tree. However, pollination must still occur in order to set fruit, and this requires warm dry weather at flowering time – which is often not the case in the UK climate, and is one of the main reasons why site selection is so important for successful quince production.

Quince trees are usually grown as open-centred bush-style trees, a form which best suits the attractively contorted way in which they tend to grow. They can also be trained as fans against south-facing walls or fences, and this is a good technique for getting the best cropping and flavour in the UK. Quinces produce fruit on the tips of shoots so they are not suitable for training as espaliers, cordons, or step-overs.

Quince trees are generally slow-growing but very long-lived – and the trees become more attractive as they age. The first fruits are borne after 3-5 years.

All our quince trees are grafted on Quince A (semi-vigorous) or Quince C (semi-dwarf) rootstocks. Quinces are clearly related to pears but they produce smaller and more spreading trees than pears, and for this reason pears are usually grafted on to quince rootstocks to produce trees of more manageable proportions.

Quince trees benefit from a general purpose plant food in late winter, and young trees in particular should have a good layer of mulch to suppress weeds and keep the roots moist – they like slightly damp conditions for their roots. If you can provide a sunny sheltered spot with moist soil you should be successful. Quinces are relatively easy to grow, as they are nearly all self-fertile or partially self-fertile. Being tip-bearers they need minimal pruning.

Quinces should stored in a cool place after picking (preferably with natural light, it does not need to be dark), to allow the fruit to mature and the fragrant flavour to develop – they can be used after a month or so. It is best to store them away from other fruits unless you want them also to pick up the fragrance of the quinces.

Quince are one of those fruits which are fairly well known yet not often grown in the garden – possibly because they are not actually fit for eating raw unless your palate is non-existent, as they are extremely bitter and astringent. I contend that quince are well worth growing in the garden but before we go any further I must clear up the difference between the ornamental quince and the quince grown for its fruits.

The ornamental shrub chaenomeles often known as ‘japonica’ has red, white or orange flowers, is thorny – often spiteful – and produces small, often speckled fruits. This is known as the ornamental quince and is grown for the decorative value of its flowers and its fruits. Sorry but I find this shrub to be of little value in the garden other than to act as a deterrent for would be intruders! It is Cydonia oblonga that we are interested in and this produces hard, often pear shaped, large fruits after large white or pink flowers.

The flowers of Cydonia oblonga are large, white or pink and are often quite spectacular. At flowering time the whole tree can be absolutely covered with blossom which can make it a very useful decorative feature. The fruits are ready for picking from late October and whilst they are not suitable for eating raw they can be put to a good number of uses. So if not suitable for eating raw, what uses do quince fruits have?

The flowers of Cydonia oblonga are often quite spectacular.

As the fruits have a very strong scent and flavour – the variety Vranja probably having the strongest – they can be used for adding flavour to apple pies in particular. I have heard of pies and flans being made entirely of quince – the very astringent flavour being diminished during the cooking – but I have no experience of this. This could be well worth a try for the brave! I have also heard that quince wine is highly desirable (and well appreciated by the Victorians) but again I have not experimented. I do, however, have experience of quince jelly and quince marmalade and I find both of these to be absolutely delicious and thoroughly recommend that you try both even if you do not grow your own quince.

Apart from being edible, quince do have another use and one which has been much prized in the past and this, believe it or not, was as an early air freshener! Recent research has shown that the Mesopotamians and the Romans both used the quince to freshen and sweeten the air in their buildings. You might like to experiment yourself during the autumn and winter! However, it is important to recognize that the smell of the quince is very pervasive and you will be wise to store them away from other fruit or they can become tainted with the aroma – not necessarily what you want if you have been looking forward to a particularly juicy pear!

In the eyes of the ancient Greeks and the Romans the fruit was regarded as an emblem of happiness, love and fruitfulness and they were eaten by newly married couples before they retired to their marriage bed. In Croatia when a baby is born a quince tree is planted as a symbol of fertility, love and life.

Now that you are hopefully intrigued by the quince I will set out to explain how they are best cultivated in the garden. As the trees have a weeping habit they make an attractive feature particularly at flowering time and at fruiting time, especially if the leaves fall early leaving the fruits exposed on the tree. To do this they are probably best grown as half standards although they can be grown as espaliers fairly easily. Incidentally I am never too bothered by birds or squirrels attacking the quince fruits as they seem equally unattractive in their raw state to birds and animals as to humans!

As far as rootstocks are concerned quinces are best grown on the rootstock Quince ‘A’ although the new EMH rootstock, which has recently been developed for pears, may prove very suitable and slightly more dwarfing.

Surprisingly there are a number of quince varieties available and there are five, perhaps, that are well worth trying plus one that can be grown in pots or containers. The good news is that they are all self-fertile which means that you only need to grow one tree.

Champion is an American variety and will produce very large fruits indeed – ideal for the show bench and pure decoration as well. This variety tends to be more apple shaped although it can on occasion resemble a fat pear. Colourwise it will range from a greenish yellow to golden yellow.

Meeches Prolific is American in origin having been named after an amateur pomologist and an authority on the quince. The fruits are pear shaped, quite large in size and golden yellowish in colour. It is a regular and heavy cropping variety and will often start fruiting early in its life. A bonus is that it is a very hardy variety and should suit all parts of the country. For exhibitors this is an excellent show bench variety and probably my favourite.

‘Meeches Prolific’ produces large, golden, pear-shaped fruits.

Portugal is a variety best suited to warmer areas although it will succeed in colder areas grown as an espalier against a warm wall. The fruits, which are yellow orange when ripe, are ovalish in shape and can grow quite large if thinned well. This variety is often considered to have the best flavour for jelly, marmalade and general cooking and its flesh turns red when cooked. This variety is a vigorous grower and will need regular pruning to ensure that it stays a reasonable size and shape.

Serbian Gold (Leskovac) is a very hardy quince of Serbian origin which is very heavy cropping and unusually the fruits are apple shaped rather than pear shaped. This is a less vigorous growing variety of quince but nevertheless a highly productive variety used in its native Serbia for both cooking and making quince liqueur. Besides its fruiting qualities, it has ornamental value, with masses of attractive pink flowers in early spring. The tree is very disease resistant.

Sibley’s Patio Quince is very suitable for growing in a pot and despite its dwarf growing habit will produce a good crop. This naturally dwarf quince is grafted onto a dwarfing rootstock, making it an ideal patio plant. You should expect around 50 fruits per bush after 3 years.

Sibley’s Patio Quince is suitable for the smallest of gardens.

Vranja is an old Serbian variety which produces good quality, very large, pear shaped fruits which are golden yellow when ripe. This variety has, perhaps, the best scent for both flavouring and air sweetening and it is one of the easiest to grow. It comes into bearing early in life, is a regular cropper and is hardy enough to grow anywhere in the country. It is also an ideal show bench variety.

I have found that growing quince is well worth the effort both as a good decorative tree and for the fruits which seem to have many uses in the house. All I know is that all the fruits that I produce are quickly snapped up by my wife, friends and neighbours!

Medlars were once commonly grown in many parts of the British Isles – often in kitchen gardens along with quinces, mulberries and other fruits less commonly grown today. Occasionally medlars can still be found growing in hedgerows, particularly in southern England, often as gnarled old specimens as they are slow growing and long lived.

Medlars have almost developed a mystique because they are relatively peculiar to look at – so much so that a good number are once again becoming planted in gardens. Fortunately, as noted earlier, they are relatively slow growing and it will take a good number of years for them to grow into large trees although they can be easily kept at a small size by regular pruning. They begin to fruit at an early stage often only a couple of years after planting which can be a bonus in the garden situation. They can be very long lived and there is a medlar tree near where I live reputed to be over 200 years old!

Apart from producing fruit, the medlar with its large white or pinkish blossom, makes a very attractive tree and on this basis alone can earn its place in the garden. Incidentally, the medlar is related to the hawthorn, crab apple and pear as part of the Roseacae family – hence the wonderful flowers.

The species Mespilus germanica is often thought of as indigenous to Britain but this is not the case. It is most likely to have originated in Greece or Iran from where it spread to south-east Europe. Although there are few records of its earliest cultivation in Britain it is known to have been around in the sixteenth century; however, it is more than likely that it was brought over here by the Romans.

Currently the medlar is making something of a comeback mainly, I suspect, as an interest in old variety of fruits in increasing – its attractiveness in the spring being a bonus. There are three cultivars generally available today with, perhaps, the most common being Nottingham. All of the medlars listed are self-fertile so do not require a pollinator.

Nottingham is considered to be the best flavoured medlar producing medium sized fruits. It makes a fairly small tree with a weeping habit and it can easily be kept under control. It fruits very well and comes into bearing at a very early age. The flowers are very large and are quite spectacular at flowering time.

‘Nottingham’ is generally considered the best flavoured medlar.

Royal produces smaller fruits and is considered to be second in flavour to Nottingham. However, the difference with this variety is that it produces a more ‘natural’ looking tree which can make a very attractive standard.

Westerveldt produces regular crops of large round fruits often well over 5cm (2 inches) in diameter. The flowers are large and white. Like Nottingham it has a compact habit and comes into bearing early on. The flavour and texture however is not as good as Nottingham for eating fresh.

Sibley’s Patio Medlar, as the name suggests, is very suitable for growing in a pot. It produces a very compact bush capable of producing around 30 medlars per bush after 3 to 4 years.

Medlar fruits are harvested in late October or early November preferably on a dry day. They need to be kept until they become soft and ready for use. They should be stored calyx down in single layers, if possible on a medium such as sawdust which will keep them as dry as possible. After two or three weeks of such storage they will become mellow and soft, almost to the extent of breaking down. This process is known as ‘bletting’.

Not everyone enjoys medlars. Indeed I have found that their flavour which is best described as ‘distinctive, pleasantly acid with perhaps a suggestion of astringency’ is either thoroughly enjoyed or thoroughly disliked although I suggest that the latter is more allied to the almost decaying nature of the bletted fruit. Nevertheless I never have any problem of disposing of any of my medlars – there always seems to be a queue of aficionados!

Medlars can either be eaten with a good red wine or port with some cheese or used to make a delicious jelly, which is excellent for accompanying lamb or game. However, if a jelly is to be made the fruits should be prepared before they start going too soft. The flavour of the resulting jelly is most interesting – it was only very recently that it was described to me as tasting of toffee apples!

Medlars are easily grown. They are not particularly fussy about their planting conditions although a free draining soil probably suits them best. Pruning is rarely required due to their slow growing nature, other than removing diseased or dead wood and keeping them to the required shape and height. You can even grow dwarf varieties in pots and containers.

Although medlars may not turn out to be your favourite fruit I thoroughly recommend that you have a go at growing at least one tree, if only to help restore some fruit growing history. At least you can use them as a talking point in your garden and explain why the French have such a rude name for the fruits!

Gerry Edwards
19th October 2014

Gerry is an experienced amateur fruit grower who is Chairman of the RHS Fruit Group, a member of the Royal Horticultural Society’s Fruit, Vegetable and Herb Committee and also their Fruit Trials Panel. Gerry judges fruit nationally for the Royal Horticultural Society and is also a qualified National Vegetable Society judge.

Aromatnaya Quince Fruit Tree

This unique and valuable Russian variety, Aromatnaya Quince Fruit Tree bears abundant crops of very large, bright yellow, aromatic fruit with a delicious, lemony flavor. Aromatnaya Qunce fruit can be eaten fresh or used in many dishes and to make particularly delicious and attractive preserves.

Once very popular and now hard to find, Quince deserves to be more widely planted in our gardens and landscapes. An attractive, spreading, small tree, Quince is adorned with large, cup-shaped, pink and white flowers in the spring followed by bountiful crops of large, bright yellow, sweetly aromatic fruit in late fall. High in Vitamin C and pectin, Quince makes delicious preserves and baked goods.

Quince like half day to full sun and grows well in most soils. It grow 10-12 ft. in height at maturity and is hardy to at least minus 25 degree F. Quince trees can bear 100 pounds or more of fruit, which ripen from late September into October. Quince is generally pest and disease free.

Latin Name: Cydonia oblonga
Site and Soil: Quince likes full to 1/2 day sun and well-drained soil.
Rootstock Description:
Pollination Requirements: Quince is self-fertile.
Hardiness: Aromatnaya Quince is hardy to minus 25º F or below.
Bearing Age: 2-3 years after planting.
Size at Maturity: 10-12 ft. in height
Bloom Time: April
Ripening Time: September
Yield: 100+ lbs.
Pests & Diseases: Quince is not bothered by pests. While not usually a problem in the Pacific Northwest, Fire Blight can be a affect Quince is some regions of the US.
USDA Zone: 4
Sunset Western Zone: 2-24
Sunset Northeast Zone: 31, 32, 34, 35, 37, 39

Our Catalogue

Description: Aromatnaya, also known as Krymsk, is a heavy reliable and regular cropping variety that produces fruits in late summer. Fruit is a smooth rounded shape, not knobbly like most others. Yellow in colour and one of the few Quince’s that claims of fresh eating qualities. A delicious tropical flavour, much like a pineapple. They can also be made into jellies, cheese (membrillo) and vodka! Attractive pale pink flowers appear during the spring followed by rounded silver leaves which make this tree a lovely feature for any sunny garden.

History: Originates from southern Russia during the 1900s.

Quince Growing Tips: Perform at their best when planted in a sunny position. Happy in most soils as long as they are particularly moist yet well-drained. Easy to look after and not prone to many of the more common fruit problems, although some varieties can be susceptable to Quince Leaf Blite. The fruits can be stored in a cool, dry and dark place on shallow trays for up to three months. Allow the fruits to mature for six weeks before using.

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