The quince trees that bear the aromatic golden yellow fruits measuring about 3 inches in diameter bear the scientific name of Cydonia oblonga. For clarification, horticulturists sometimes refer to them as common quinces to differentiate them from the Chinese quince (Pseudocydonia sinensis) and the low, shrubby flowering quince (Chaenomeles spp.). These two other quinces bear fruits that are edible, but are not of the sweeter, more delicious flavour or quality of those produced on the common quince's branches.
Popularity of Quince Trees
Although hardy in many climates across the United States, the common quince isn't widely grown. California tends to supply the most quinces for speciality market sale. Worldwide, cultivation centres in more arid lands such as Turkey, China, Iran, Argentina and Morocco, according to Mark Rieger of the University of Georgia. In 1908, 14 varieties of common quince were important in the U.S. and at the start of the 21st century, only four or five cultivars remain more widely planted.
Cultivar names of quince trees often become muddied, as some dual names in different countries exist for the same cultivar. Cultivar Portugal is also known as Lusitanica, while the Orange cultivar is also called Apple by some quince growers. Other cultivars of common quince include Pineapple, Angers, Champion, Smyrna, Bourgeault, Van Deman, Coburg, Cooke's Jumbo, Ekmek, Karp's Sweet Quince, Kaunching, Aromatniya Krymsk, Aromatnaya, Krymskaya, Kuganskaya, Limon, Maliformis, Vranja, Myagkoplodnaya, Meech's Prolific, Havran, Portugiesische Birnquitta, Seker Gevrek, Rich, Tencara Pink, Tekes, Trentholm and Triumph O.P. This list isn't exhaustive as numerous more selections have been developed and named in the vernacular across Europe and Asia and not yet introduced in the United States.
The numerous cultivars of common quince trees vary primarily by the fruits produced. These fruits display different shapes and varying degrees of aroma and flesh flavour and colour. Quince fruits most often mature about 3 inches in diameter, but large-size fruits get as large as 4 inches. The shape of fruits ranges from the classic gentle oval with wider bottom hemisphere to nearly round or more oblong. Fragrance of fruits through the skin gives away the flavour of the flesh. Often the scent or flavour begets the cultivar name, such as Limon, Orange or Pineapple. Lastly, quince flesh colour ranges from creamy white to yellow, golden orange or pink.
The Chinese Quince
In the United States, gardeners don't usually grow Chinese quince for its fragrant, oblong, edible fruits that measure 4 to 5 inches long. Rather, this species displays more ornate pink flowers and striking bark colouration when compared to the common quince. The wide-opening flowers appear in mid- to late spring with the green leaves in the background. The tree's bark exfoliates and rivals the mottled, snakelike blotches also seen on many crape myrtle tree trunks.
- Mark's Fruit Crops; Quince; Mark Rieger
- "Arnoldia"; Cydonia Oblonga: The Unappreciated Quince; Joseph Postman; 2009
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: NCGR-Corvallis Cydonia Catalog -- Fruit Genotypes
- "A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants"; Christopher Brickell and H. Marc Cathey, eds.; 2004
- Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images