What is a Flowering Quince?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

The flowering quince is a visually arresting shrub that is grown in many parts of the world, though initially, these plants were first cultivated in several areas of Asia. There are several cultivars of the plants which belong to the family and genus of Rosaceae and Chaenomeles. The most common species grown are japonica , speciosa, and cathayensis, and there are numerous hybrids. These shrubs are probably best known for their beautiful white, pink, or nearly red blossoms, which in temperate climates appear in mid to late winter. Many of the bushes also produce the quince fruit.

Many flowering quinces also produce fruit.
Many flowering quinces also produce fruit.

In temperate climates, the flowering quince is an early herald of spring. Quite suddenly, when most other flowering plants are still dormant, the bare, dark branches of these bushes, which can grow to an impressive 5-10 feet (1.52-3.05 m) in height, suddenly bring forth collections of blossoms that provide color and contrast. The blossoms are usually five petals and about an inch (2.54 cm) in diameter, and they cluster together along the branch.

Blossoms are long lasting, and typically will remain on the branch for a month or two, until leaves sprout. Florists celebrate flowering quince branches, too. They have a tendency to be long living as cut flowers, when given proper amounts of water.

A certain payment exists for this aesthetic wonder. Before blossoming, the flowering quince doesn’t look like much except a bundle of twigs. The leaves are not evergreen, and some people find the twisted wood a little messy. It is possible to prune and bring about more order to each bush, but to some they look a hedge or bush that has died until they flower. Even after flowering, untamed branches with leaves may not be the most visually pleasing sight.

Much attention is given to the blooming cycle of the flowering quince, but many of these plants — unless it is an ornamental variety — produce fruit in autumn that is similar in shape and size to an apple. The quince is respected in certain cultures and deeply underappreciated in others. Part of the reason it isn’t popular in some places is because it needs work to make it edible. It can’t simply be eaten off the tree because it is sour and puckers the mouth.

On the other hand, the high vitamin C content and pectin levels of quinces make them attractive for use in different recipes. Most often, quinces are added to jams, but they could be part of a cooked fruit combination or baked in tarts and pies. Lots of recipes exist for those interested in making more of their flowering quince shrubs. It should be noted many hybrids don’t put forth high quality fruit.

Whether for fruit, flower or both, the flowering quince tends to be hardy and will grow in a variety of regions. They are best planted in well-drained soil and should receive at least partial sun. Plants can be grown alone, or planted together to form a hedge.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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Discussion Comments


I have a flowering quince and it is gorgeous in the spring. It has red-fuchsia flowers that are striking against the dark branches. It really does make for a beautiful spring arrangement, in with some flowering almond and bridal wreath or forsythia.

A couple of years ago, it actually produced a grand total of one fruit. That's the only time it has ever offered to do so. I wouldn't mind trying quince jelly, but unless my quince takes a notion to start producing more fruit, I doubt that will happen.

Still, I enjoy it and its showy blooms so much in the spring.

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