The Quince tree originates from Asia Minor, but has become naturalised to South Africa. Although the fruit has fallen out of favour during recent years, many of us still carry the memory of quince jelly being served from farmhouse kitchens.
A member of the Rosaceae family, this deciduous tree bears a pome fruit, similar in appearance to a pear. The fruit mature from green to a golden yellow colour and has a bumpy shape with a fuzzy surface. The flesh is strongly perfumed, but the fruit generally tastes astringent and tart, even when ripe. The fruit is traditionally prepared by boiling and being made into a preserve with the addition of sugar or honey.
Medium sized, the Cydonia oblonga can grow to a height of 3 – 6 m and has an irregular shape with twisted branches. The leaves are green with a lighter, slightly furry underside. Ornamental pink-white flowers appear in spring and summer which develop into fruit that can be harvested during autumn.
The Quince tree is ornamental with its changing colours, pretty flowers and interesting shape. In addition, the fruit is coming back into vogue with culinary adventurers incorporating it into preserves, jams and desserts.
Fairly hardy and resistant to drought, the Quince tree is a beautiful addition to the garden and will outlive many other species.