QUINCE, a fruit-tree concerning which botanists differ as to whether or not it is entitled to take rank as a distinct genus, Cydonia, or as a section of the genus Pyrus (family Rosaceae, q.v.). The name Cydonia vulgaris is to be preferred to Pyrus Cydonia. Bailey gives five varieties of C. vulgaris, namely vars. lusitanica, maliformis, pyriformis, marmorata and pyramidalis. The quinces are much-branched shrubs or small trees with entire leaves, small stipules, large solitary white or pink flowers like those of a pear or apple, but with leafy calyx lobes and a many-celled ovary, in each cell of which are numerous horizontal ovules.
The common quince is a native of Persia and Anatolia, and per haps also of Greece and the Crimea, but in these latter localities it is doubtful whether or not the plant is not a relic of former cultivation. By Franchet and Savatier P. Cydonia is given as a native of Japan with the native name of "maroumerou." It is certain that the Greeks knew a common variety upon which they engrafted scions of a better variety which they called Kv(54)vcov from Cydon in Crete, whence it was obtained, and from which the later names have been derived. The fragrance and astringency of the fruit of the quince are well known, and the seeds were for merly used medicinally for the sake of the mucilage they yield when soaked in water. The quince is but little cultivated in Great Britain; in Scotland it seldom approaches maturity, unless fa voured by a wall. The fruit has a powerful odour, but in the raw state is austere and astringent; it, however, makes an excellent preserve, and is often used to give flavour and sharpness to stewed or baked apples.
The common Japan quince, Pyrus or Cydonia japonica, is grown in gardens for the sake of its flowers, which vary in colour from creamy white to rich red, and are produced during the winter and early spring months. The fruit is green and fragrant but quite
uneatable. (X.) Cultivation in the United States.—Once rather commonly cultivated in America, the quince is now the least esteemed of all tree fruits for the orchards of the continent. In the heyday of its popularity, fruits were largely grown for canning and preserving, the quince being noted for its delectable products. Now, however, fruits are most commonly grown to eat out of hand; though the quince is scarcely edible in the uncooked state. The cultivation of the quince is of the easiest. It thrives under any of the several systems of cultivation given apples and pears and does well even under neglect, providing only that the soil be suitable. The quince will not grow in light or sandy soils and must have loams or clays. This fruit has comparatively few insect and fungus troubles and, therefore, should be a favourite plant in home gardens for its fruits and also because it is a handsome ornamental tree. There is not much variation either in tree or fruit. The fruits are all golden-yellow in colour, of much the same texture and flavour, and differ chiefly in shape, there being orange-shaped, apple-shaped and pear-shaped sorts, numbering, perhaps, a score or more, but of these only two or three appear in nurserymen's catalogues. Orange is the most commonly grown variety. Champion is another of the three or four standard sorts, of which only one other, Rea, is worthy of mention. (U. P. H.) See W. W. Robbins, Botany of Crop Plants (Philadelphia, 1924) ; L. H. Bailey, Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture (1914-27) and Manual of Cultivated Plants (1924).