Japanese Flowering Quince (Chaenomeles japonica)
These ornamental plants are types of chaenomeles (pronounced kai-no-may-leez) that are native to China and Japan. They are often called Japanese quinces or japonica. Their simple, five-petalled blooms look a little like apple blossom, but instead of a short floral burst in spring, they can often decorate the plant from the cold days of February until early summer. Although quinces flower over a long period, the main flush of bloom usually occurs in April. A profusion of rounded flower buds unfurl in clusters along the twiggy stems in pure white, the palest of pinks through to coral, flame and the darkest scarlet, depending on the variety. The flowers appear on bare stems, just prior to the emerging new leaves. The blooms are eventually partially hidden among the foliage. Tiny, rounded leaves (to 3/4" long) emerge after the flowers and are slightly brownish as they open but mature into a glossy dark green. Small, pleasantly scented, apple-like, greenish yellow fruit (quinces) ripen in fall, and, although quite bitter and unappetizing when fresh, may be used in jellies and preserves.
Japanese Flowering Quince Choices
Japanese hybridizers have created cultivars of quince that bloom in shades of scarlet, crimson, rose and brilliant red. There is white tinged with pink and pink tinged with white and white tinged with lemon and like that. Flower shapes include single, semi-double and double. Most cultivars are erect shrubs that grow 6 to 10 feet although low growing cultivars are available for use as ground covers. Two more refined varieties which have a prostrate habit. The white-flowered C. x superba Jet Trail and semi-double red C. speciosa Simonii can create effective, waist-high ground cover on awkward slopes or in shady corners of the garden. Alpina is a dwarf form that is only one to two feet tall but spreading to four feet.