The quince is a historic fruit that is regaining some of its popularity. Find out the difference between an apple- & pear-shaped quince and some of the best varieties.
Quinces (Cydonia oblonga) have been popular for many centuries, however, nowadays they are not commonly seen in shops in the UK. They remain a delicious fruit, one that is spicy and aromatic and can be baked or made into jams or jellies. Although growing and harvesting quinces does require a bit of patience, quince trees are well worth considering for any garden.
How many different varieties of quince are there?
There are a large number of varieties of quince around the world, with more than 200 different types. This includes the modern and classic varieties as well as old regional and local varieties. Older variants are reputed to be more aromatic and spicier than newer quince cultivars. There are many varieties of quince, however, all varieties are self-fertile, so you can get fruits without worrying about having to plant more than one tree in your garden. However, there will be a more significant crop if more than one tree is planted. A quince tree will usually start producing fruit when they are 5 or 6 years old and need a warm, sunny spot for the fruit to ripen.
Tip: it is easy to confuse the edible quince tree (Cydonia oblonga) with the ornamental quince tree (Chaenomeles). The quince fruit tree is entirely different from the ornate flowering shrub, also known as false quince or wild quince, although they are only distantly related.
The most well-known ornamental quinces are the Japanese quince (Chaenomeles japonica) and the Chinese quince (Chaenomeles speciosa). They produce quince-like fruits much smaller than those on a quince tree. This article focuses on the Cydonia oblonga fruiting quince tree.
What is the difference between apple-shaped and pear-shaped quinces?
The difference between apple-shaped quinces and pear-shaped quinces lies in the two distinct shapes of the fruit. Apple-shaped quince fruit have a more rounded shape, like an apple, while pear-shaped quinces are more elongated in shape, with the outline of a pear. The differentiation is primarily the shape and there is no markable difference in taste between the two types. Within each of these two types, the size of the fruit can range from very large to a more modest size.
Apple-shaped quince: the best varieties
- ‘Aromatnaya’: the ‘Aromatnaya’ quince has golden-yellow fruits with a smooth rounded shape. This quince is primarily used for cooking and is perfect for processing. The fruits can be harvested in October and, after being left to ripen for a few days, have a tropical flavour reminiscent of melon or pineapple.
- ‘Serbian Gold’: is an apple-shaped quince that originates from Serbia and can be harvested from October and processed through to December. It is very heavy cropping and has a good resistance to quince leaf blight (Diplocarpon mespili). ‘Serbian Gold’ is perfect for a wide range of culinary uses.
- ‘Leskovac’: the ‘Leskovac’ quince originates from Serbia, is very reliable and a consistently heavy cropper. It has a dwarf growth habit and reaches a maximum height of 5m. The juicy and mildly aromatic fruit is ready to harvest in October.
Pear-shaped quince: the best varieties
- ‘Vranja’: the ‘Vranja’ quince originated from Serbia over 200 years ago and is ready for picking in October. After storage, the fruit can be processed between November and December. Quince ‘Vranja’ produces large pale green-yellow fruit that has a very strong fragrance and a bitter taste. It is one of the most reliable edible quince varieties but is a light cropper compared to others.
- ‘Champion’: is one of the earliest varieties to ripen, early in October. It reliably produces a crop of large pear-shaped fruits. The fruits are green-yellow but the flesh is dark pink when cooked. This variety grows to a maximum height of 3 – 4m and is ideal for smaller gardens.
- ‘Meeches Prolific’: is a popular variety that produces large golden yellow fruits – weighing up to 500g- ready for picking in October. Quince ‘Meeches Prolific’ has a very strong and sweet distinctive scent and it is a heavy and reliable cropper.
- ‘Rea’s Mammoth’: has heavy yields of large fruit that ripen to a golden yellow colour and are ready from the middle of October. ‘Rea’s Mammoth’ is very aromatic in both smell and flavour.
- ‘Portugal’: the Portuguese quince is very vigorous and delivers fruits until the end of October. The fruits are large, soft and juicy and can only be stored for a short period, until around the end of November.
All varieties of quince love rich soil and will benefit from a feed of fertiliser in spring to give it the food it requires to produce flowers and fruits. A well-fed healthy tree is also less susceptible to disease. Our Plantura All Purpose Plant Food has a balanced make-up of nutrients to help quince trees to grow strong and healthy.
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If you cannot decide whether to plant a pear or quince tree in your garden, then check out our article on the classic ‘Conference’ pear (Pyrus communis).