Q. When does flowering quince bloom?
Flowering quince, or Japanese quince--botanical name Chaenomeles--blooms in early spring before the leaf break. However, the flowers' appearance can be erratic--it's not unusual for a few to open in fall or in winter in mild climates.
Although all quince species produce flowers, the Chaenomeles species are called flowering quince because they are grown for flowers rather than fruit. Quince blooms may be single, semi-double, or double flowered, with flowers 1-2 inches in diameter. They have short stalks and are arranged singly to several in a cluster, or sometimes in leafy racemes and panicles. Chaenomeles flowers have five sepals and, except in semi-double and double varieties, mostly five rounded petals. But the number of petals may vary considerably between flowers on the same plant. Cultivars can bear red, pink, white or orange flowers. The shades change as the blossoms age. The petals fall before fading. There 40-60 stamens arranged approximately in two rows.
Flowering quince fruits are large, short-stalked, and apple-like in their appearance, but vary considerably and can be pear-shaped. The fruits are fragrant when mature, drop soon after they ripen, and can be used to make jelly.
The species listed in our living collection are C. japonica. Despite its name, it is native to China, Tibet, and Burma, rather than Japan. It was brought to Japan in the middle of the sixteenth century and has since been widely cultivated and become naturalized. Flowering quince was first brought to Europe in 1796. It was a spiny shrub up to 6 feet high, or sometimes taller. The leaves were dark green, often glossy, and sharply-toothed 1½-2 inches across. The red, pink, or white, cupped blooms were 1 1/2 to 2 inches across. The yellow or yellowish-green, apple-, pear-, or egg-shaped fruits were up to 3 inches in length.
Handle flowering quince with care (prune after flowering as needed), as its many spines are extremely sharp!
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- Courtesy of NYBG Plant Information Service