Common Quince – Identification

Q: Could you please tell me what this fruit is? It’s very large with flesh more like an apple than a pear. Some of the fruits are very elongated.

It’s growing in the back yard of a house on Crabapple Road in Roswell. It’s a smallish tree.

A: It’s a quince, Cydonia oblonga. Several types of quinces are grown in the South. Before there were super-sour candies, schoolchildren dared each other to eat a slice of tongue-torturing quince fruit. As you note, it forms a small tree.

Flowering landscape quince, Chanomeles speciosa, Japanese flowering quince, Chanomeles japonica and Chinese quince, Pseudocydonia sinensis are landscape plants whose fruit can be used just like true quince fruits in jams and cooking.

Fruits of the common quince are larger than landscape quince; they are round or pear-shaped and weigh up to 1 pound. They are very hard and are only edible when cooked or made into jelly.

Quince fruits are known for their strong perfume. One will freshen up an entire room if left at room temperature for several days.

Cheryl C. writes:
I grew up in south Mississippi and I remember quince growing wild, although it did not look like the one pictured. It was one of my favorite things to eat!! Actually, most of the kids I knew loved to eat quince. The consistency was very dense, even hard. The flavor was sort of sweet-tart. You are correct that they have a wonderful aroma!

One of my most vivid memories of eating a quince is the time I accompanied my mother to the beauty parlor in the small town near where we lived. I had brought a quince along to “eat on” while I waited for my mother to get her hair done. Because the fruit was so hard, you had to sort of scrape at it with your front teeth, and it took a long time to eat. Anyway, I was happily enjoying my quince, when my mother came up to me and insisted that I give it to a young pregnant woman who had been watching me eat and just had to have MY quince!! I was very upset and protested, but being a kid, I lost that argument. My precious quince was taken away from me, washed, and given to the “craving” pregnant lady.