In the ancient civilizations of the Middle East and Greece, the quince tree's fruit was important. In Colonial America, almost every middle-class family had a quince tree. But in the United States today, quince trees--scientific name Cydonia oblonga--and their fruit are far less popular.
Size and Shape
Quince plants can be grown as shrubs or as trees, reaching heights of 8 to 12 feet. Their branches are gnarled and twisted.
Leaves and Flowers
Quince leaves can be broad at the base and narrow at the tip, or they can be oblong. They usually measure about 2 inches wide by 4 inches long. The tree produces white-petaled flowers that measure about 2 inches in diameter.
Unlike its relatives the apple and the pear, the quince tends to be hard and bitter and is usually cooked rather than eaten raw. Many jams, jellies and preserves are made from quince.
Varieties of quince tree include Pineapple, Orange, Smyrna, and Van Deman. Each variety produces fruit of a slightly different shape, size and hue.
In California, quince of different varieties are harvested mainly in September and October.