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Not to be confused with quints. For other uses, see Quince (disambiguation).
Quince flowers.jpg
Cydonia oblonga flowers
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Rosales
Family: Rosaceae
Subfamily: Amygdaloideae[1]
Tribe: Maleae
Subtribe: Malinae
Genus: Cydonia
Species: C. oblonga
Binomial name
Cydonia oblonga

C. vulgaris

Quince: botanical illustration
Quince - Cydonia oblonga Mill.

The quince (/ˈkwɪns/; Cydonia oblonga) is the sole member of the genus Cydonia in the family Rosaceae (which also contains apples and pears, among other fruits). It is a small deciduous tree that bears a pome fruit, similar in appearance to a pear, and bright golden-yellow when mature. Throughout history the cooked fruit has been used as food, but the tree is also grown for its attractive pale pink blossoms and other ornamental qualities.

The tree grows 5 to 8 metres (16 to 26 ft) high and 4 to 6 metres (13 to 20 ft) wide. The fruit is 7 to 12 centimetres (2.8 to 4.7 in) long and 6 to 9 centimetres (2.4 to 3.5 in) across.

It is native to rocky slopes and woodland margins in South-West Asia, Turkey and Iran[2] although it thrives in a variety of climates and can be grown successfully at latitudes as far north as Scotland. It should not be confused with its relatives, the Chinese quince, Pseudocydonia sinensis, or the flowering quinces of genus Chaenomeles, either of which is sometimes used as culinary substitutes.

The immature fruit is green with dense grey-white pubescence, most of which rubs off before maturity in late autumn when the fruit changes color to yellow with hard, strongly perfumed flesh. The leaves are alternately arranged, simple, 6–11 cm (2–4 in) long, with an entire margin and densely pubescent with fine white hairs. The flowers, produced in spring after the leaves, are white or pink, 5 cm (2 in) across, with five petals.

Quince is used as a food plant by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including brown-tail, Bucculatrix bechsteinella, Bucculatrix pomifoliella, Coleophora cerasivorella, Coleophora malivorella, green pug and winter moth.

Four other species previously included in the genus Cydonia are now treated in separate genera. These are Pseudocydonia sinensis and the three flowering quinces of eastern Asia in the genus Chaenomeles. Another unrelated fruit, the bael, is sometimes called the "Bengal quince".


The fruit was known to the Akkadians, who called it supurgillu; Arabic سفرجل al safarjal "quinces" (collective plural).[3] The modern name originated in the 14th century as a plural of quoyn, via Old French cooin from Latin cotoneum malum / cydonium malum, ultimately from Greek κυδώνιον μῆλον, kydonion melon "Kydonian apple".


Quince foliage and ripening fruit

In Europe, quinces are commonly grown in central and southern areas where the summers are sufficiently hot for the fruit to fully ripen. They are not grown in large amounts; typically one or two quince trees are grown in a mixed orchard with several apples and other fruit trees: so were they grown in the 18th-century New England colonies, where there was always a quince at the lower corner of the vegetable garden, Ann Leighton notes in records of Portsmouth, New Hampshire and Newburyport, Massachusetts.[4] Charlemagne directed that quinces be planted in well-stocked orchards. Quinces in England are first recorded in about 1275, when Edward I had some planted at the Tower of London.[5]


closeup of Russian quinces 'Aromatnaya'
  • 'Aromatnaya'
  • 'Bereczcki'
  • 'Champion'
  • 'Cooke’s Jumbo' (syn. 'Jumbo')
  • 'Dwarf Orange'
  • 'Gamboa'
  • 'Iranian'
  • 'Isfahan'
  • 'Le Bourgeaut'
  • 'Lescovacz'
  • 'Ludovic'
  • 'Maliformis'
  • 'Meeches Prolific'
  • 'Morava'
  • 'Orange' (syn. 'Apple quince')
  • 'Perfume'
  • 'Pineapple'
  • 'Portugal' (syn. 'Lusitanica')
  • 'Shams'
  • 'Siebosa'
  • 'Smyrna'
  • 'Van Deman'
  • 'Vrajna' (syn. 'Bereczcki')[6]

The cultivar 'Vranja' Nenadovic has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.[7]


Top producers of quince - 2012
Country Metric tons
 Turkey 135,406
 China 125,000
 Uzbekistan 80,000
 Morocco 46,000
 Iran 36,500
 Argentina 27,500
 Azerbaijan 27,140
 Spain 14,000
 Serbia 10,795
 Algeria 10,516
 World total 596,532
Source: UN FAOSTAT [8]
Quince output in 2012


Quince fruit

In food[edit]

Some varieties of quince, such as 'Aromatnaya' and 'Kuganskaya' do not require cooking and can be eaten raw.[9] However, most varieties of quince are too hard, astringent and sour to eat raw unless "bletted" (softened by frost and subsequent decay).[10] High in pectin, they are used to make jam, jelly and quince pudding, or they may be peeled, then roasted, baked or stewed; pectin levels diminish as the fruit ripens.[11] The flesh of the fruit turns red after a long cooking time. The very strong perfume means they can be added in small quantities to apple pies and jam to enhance the flavor. Adding a diced quince to apple sauce will enhance the taste of the apple sauce with the chunks of relatively firm, tart quince. The term "marmalade", originally meaning a quince jam, derives from marmelo, the Portuguese word for this fruit.[12][13]

In the Balkans and elsewhere, quince brandy and quince liqueur are made. In Carolina in 1709, John Lawson allowed that he was "not a fair judge of the different sorts of Quinces, which they call Brunswick, Portugal and Barbary", but he noted "of this fruit they make a wine or liquor which they call Quince-Drink, and which I approve of beyond any that their country affords, though a great deal of cider and perry is there made, The Quince-Drink most commonly purges."[14]

In Kashmir, India, quinces are grown in abundance and are a seasonal fruit. They are called 'Bum-choonth' and are cooked with brinjals and enjoyed as a delicacy by Kashmiri Pundits.


In the Alsace region of France and the Valais region of Switzerland, liqueur de coing made from quince is used as a digestif.

Spain and Latin America[edit]

In Spain, the sweet and floral notes of carne de membrillo (quince meat) contrast nicely with the tangyness of the cheese.[15][better source needed] Boiled quince is popular in desserts such as the murta con membrillo that combines Ugni molinae with quince.In Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Spain, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela the membrillo, as the quince is called in Spanish, is cooked into a reddish, jelly-like block or firm, reddish paste known as dulce de membrillo. It is then eaten in sandwiches and with cheese, traditionally manchego cheese, or accompanying fresh curds.[citation needed]

In traditional medicine[edit]

Quinces, raw
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 238 kJ (57 kcal)
15.3 g
Dietary fiber 1.9 g
0.1 g
0.4 g
Thiamine (B1)
0.02 mg
Riboflavin (B2)
0.03 mg
Niacin (B3)
0.2 mg
Pantothenic acid (B5)
0.081 mg
Vitamin B6
0.04 mg
Folate (B9)
3 μg
Vitamin C
15 mg
11 mg
0.7 mg
8 mg
17 mg
197 mg
4 mg
0.04 mg

Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database

Quince was mentioned among other plants, by Avicenna, an Iranian philosopher and physician, in his book Canon to treat abnormal uterine bleeding.[citation needed]

The phytochemistry of quince has been under study for several possible medical uses.[16]

Cultural associations[edit]

  • In Turkey, the expression ayvayı yemek (literally "to eat the quince") is used as a derogatory term indicating any unpleasant situation or a malevolent incident to avoid. This usage is likened to the rather bitter aftertaste of a quince fruit inside the mouth.
  • When a baby is born in the Balkans, a quince tree is planted as a symbol of fertility, love and life.
  • Ancient Greek poets (Ibycus, Aristophanes, e.g.) used quinces (kydonia) as a mildly ribald term for teenage breasts.
  • Although the book of Genesis does not name the specific type of the fruit that Adam and Eve ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the garden of Eden, some ancient texts suggest Eve's fruit of temptation might have been a quince.[17]
  • In Plutarch's Lives, Solon is said to have decreed that "bride and bridegroom shall be shut into a chamber, and eat a quince together."[18]
  • In the famous children's poem, "The Owl and the Pussycat" by Edward Lear (1871), "they dined on mince and slices of quince ..."


The seeds contain nitriles, which are common in seeds of the rose family. In the stomach, enzymes or stomach acid or both cause some of the nitriles to be hydrolyzed and produce hydrogen cyanide, which is a volatile gas. The seeds are only likely to be toxic if a large quantity is eaten.[19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Potter, D., et al. (2007). Phylogeny and classification of Rosaceae. Plant Systematics and Evolution. 266(1–2): 5–43. [Referring to the subfamily by the name "Spiraeoideae"]
  2. ^ RHS A-Z encyclopedia of garden plants. United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. 2008. p. 1136. ISBN 1405332964. 
  3. ^ Olivier Lauffenburger, 2006. The Hittite Grammar Homepage, Akkadian dictionary, entry for supurgillu
  4. ^ Leighton 1986:243.
  5. ^ Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. "Quince recipes - Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall". the Guardian. 
  6. ^ "Agroforestry news quince cydonia oblonga". agroforestry.co.uk. 
  7. ^ "Cydonia oblonga 'Vranja' Nenadovic". Royal Horticultural Society. Retrieved 22 July 2013. 
  8. ^ "Statistics from: Food And Agricultural Organization of United Nations: Economic And Social Department: The Statistical Division". UN Food and Agriculture Organization Corporate Statistical Database. Archived from the original on September 6, 2015. 
  9. ^ USDA, ARS, National Genetic Resources Program. Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). [Online Database] National Germplasm Resources Laboratory, Beltsville, Maryland. Available: http://www.ars-grin.gov/cgi-bin/npgs/acc/search.pl?accid=%20CCYD+131 (20 February 2011)
  10. ^ "Quince". herbs2000.com. 
  11. ^ Alexander, S. The cook's companion. Penguin Australia. P.609
  12. ^ Wilson, C. Anne. The Book of Marmalade: Its Antecedents, Its History and Its Role in the World Today (Together with a Collection of Recipes for Marmalades and Marmalade Cookery), University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia. Revised Edition 1999. ISBN 0-8122-1727-6
  13. ^ "Marmalade" in Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2001 Douglas Harper apud Dictionary.com
  14. ^ Lawson, A New Voyage to Carolina, 1709, quoted in Ann Leighton, American Gardens in the 18th Century: 'for Use or For Delight' , 1986:242f.
  15. ^ Membrillo paste from Gourmet Sleuth
  16. ^ Maryam Khoubnasabjafari, Abolghasem Jouyban (2011). "A review of phytochemistry and bioactivity of quince (Cydonia oblonga Mill.)" (PDF). Journal of Medicinal Plants Research. 5 (15): 3577–3594. (subscription required (help)). 
  17. ^ Cyclopaedia of Biblical, theological, and ecclesiastical literature, Volume 1 By James Strong
  18. ^ Wikisource: Lives by Plutarch, translated by John Dryden: Solon
  19. ^ "Cydonia oblonga Quince PFAF Plant Database". pfaf.org. 

External links[edit]