Common Flowering Quince (Chaenomeles speciosa)
Common Flowering Quince has a mounded form. The angled branches can become tangled if not keep in tow with some periodic pruning. The plant is dense, twiggy and quite thorny. The alternate deciduous leaves are oval to oblong and are a glossy dark green above and slightly paler below. They are 2 to 3 ½ inches long, emerging with a reddish color then turning green for the season. They have no significant fall color.
This tree is noted for its lovely fragrance and the flowers it produces at a time of the year when little else of interest is happening in the home landscape. Depending on the zone in which it is grown, flowering occurs in January in the deep South and late February or early March in more northerly climes. Flowers bloom on old growth and appear before the leaves do. At about 1 ½ inches across, the blooms look something like large apple blossoms and come in red mostly, but can have white or pink blooms on certain cultivars.
The flowers are followed by hard, yellowish-green fruits (quinces) that ripen in autumn. The 2 to 2 ½ inch quinces are edible, but are too bitter to be eaten directly from the plant. They are sometimes used in preserves and jellies in October. If the fruit is not picked for preserves it will persist on the tree well into late fall and early winter.
Choices of Common Flowering Quince
The normal color of Flowering Quince is red, but cultivars have been developed that range to salmon, pink and white. While the normal flowers are single, some cultivars have double flowers. Scarff's Red was selected for its upright habit, nearly thornless branches, and bright red flowers. Fruits are yellow-green and aromatic and can be used to make jelly. Jet Trail is a compact flowering quince cultivar which typically grows only to 2-4' tall. It is a dense, twiggy, spiny, deciduous shrub noted for its pure white, early spring flowers and its compact, broad-spreading habit. Cameo – Has double, apricot-pink flowers. Thhis is a low growing selection with bright green foliage and few thorns. Nivalis is a vigorous, upright grower with spiny branches and white, single flowers. Texas Scarlet is a low growing plant with few thorns. It is described as having tomato or watermelon - red flowers. Generally it blooms heavily. Toyo-Nishiki is an unusual cultivar that has red, pink and white flowers in the same flower cluster. It has an upright, rounded habit with spiny branches. It is possibly somewhat more susceptible to fireblight.