Japanese or flowering quince, Chaenomeles speciosa, is a shrub that belongs to the rose family. It blooms in late winter or early spring, depending on the climate, and the blooms precede the leaves of the plant. The fruit of the flowering quince is in the same group as apples and pears. It is a pome and will discolour when cut open and exposed to air. However, the fruit is very bitter and it cannot be eaten raw; it is best cooked in jams and jellies and can be used in liqueurs.
Take pictures of the bush at several stages of its development. You will need to see it in late winter for the flowers, early spring for the leaves and summer for the fruit. You do not actually need to take items from the plant if you take pictures.
Review the branch on the bush. Flowering quince have grey-brown smooth bark with thorns set along the ends of the branches. The thorns get more sparse but bigger as the branch attaches to the trunk. Flowering quince is deciduous, so there will be no leaves in winter.
Assess the flower. The flowers should appear in late winter or early spring. The colours are usually red but can also be white, deep rose and salmon. The flowers cluster in groups of two to four and are borne off the old wood. The old wood will be thornier than new wood. The petals can be single or double. The flowers are 1.5 inches in diameter.
Determine the type of leaf. The flowering quince has a leaf that is 1.5 to 3.5 inches long with serrated edges. The colour of the leaves is initially reddish and matures to a deep green. The flowering quince leaves are alternately spaced on a stem.
Cut open a fruit. Leave it sitting on the counter for a few hours to see if it discolours. Quince fruit discolours when exposed to air. The fruit is shaped like a pear but hard like an apple. Quince fruits are yellowish-green and small, only 2 to 2.5 inches long.
Flowering quinces are related to the edible quince, Cydonia oblonga.