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Cydonia oblonga - Mill.

Common Name Quince
Family Rosaceae
USDA hardiness 5-9
Known Hazards The seed is poisonous[200]. Like many of the species in the family Rosaceae it contains hydrogen cyanide (this is the substance that gives almonds their characteristic flavour). In small quantities, hydrogen cyanide has been shown to stimulate respiration and improve digestion, it is also claimed to be of benefit in the treatment of cancer. In excess, however, it can cause respiratory failure and even death.
Habitats Damp rich soils in hedgerows and thickets[50, 254].
Range Europe - Mediterranean. An occasional garden escape in Britain[17].
Edibility Rating    (4 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care (info)
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Full shade Semi-shade Full sun
Cydonia oblonga Quince

Cydonia oblonga Quince


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Physical Characteristics

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Cydonia oblonga is a deciduous Tree growing to 7.5 m (24ft) by 7 m (23ft) at a medium rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 4 and is not frost tender. It is in flower in May, and the seeds ripen in November. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Insects.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It can grow in full shade (deep woodland) semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


C. vulgaris. Pyrus cydonia.

Plant Habitats

Woodland Garden Secondary; Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade; Shady Edge;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Flowers  Fruit
Edible Uses: Drink  Gum  Pectin  Pectin

Fruit - raw or cooked[4]. When grown in warm temperate or tropical climates, the fruit can become soft and juicy and is suitable for eating raw[4]. In cooler climates such as Britain, however, it remains hard and astringent and needs to be cooked before being eaten[4]. It is used in jellies, preserves etc[9, 183]. The cooked fruit adds a delicious flavour to cooked apples[3, 37, 46, 61]. Strongly aromatic with a firm but rather gritty flesh[200]. The fruit is rich in pectin[200]. The fruit is about 10m long and 9cm wide, tapering to the stalk[200]. A nutritional analysis is available[218]. A drink can be made by adding the dried crushed seed to water, simmering for 5 minutes and sweetening to taste[183]. Flowers[183]. No further details are given.

References   More on Edible Uses

Figures in grams (g) or miligrams (mg) per 100g of food.
Fruit (Dry weight)
  • 355 Calories per 100g
  • Water : 0%
  • Protein: 2.7g; Fat: 1.2g; Carbohydrate: 94g; Fibre: 14g; Ash: 2.5g;
  • Minerals - Calcium: 55mg; Phosphorus: 95mg; Iron: 4.3mg; Magnesium: 0mg; Sodium: 25mg; Potassium: 1216mg; Zinc: 0mg;
  • Vitamins - A: 130mg; Thiamine (B1): 0.15mg; Riboflavin (B2): 0.18mg; Niacin: 1.8mg; B6: 0mg; C: 95mg;
  • Reference: [ 218]
  • Notes: The figures given here are the median of a range given in the report.

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Antiinflammatory  Antivinous  Astringent  Cardiac  Carminative  Demulcent  Digestive  Diuretic  
Emollient  Expectorant  Hypotensive  Laxative  Pectoral  Refrigerant  Restorative  
Stimulant  Tonic

The stem bark is astringent, it is used in the treatment of ulcers[218]. The seed is a mild but reliable laxative, astringent and anti-inflammatory[9]. When soaked in water, the seed swells up to form a mucilaginous mass. This has a soothing and demulcent action when taken internally[4] and is used in the treatment of respiratory diseases, especially in children[240]. This mucilage is also applied externally to minor burns etc[9]. The fruit is antivinous, astringent, cardiac, carminative, digestive, diuretic, emollient, expectorant, pectoral, peptic, refrigerant, restorative, stimulant and tonic[4, 9, 46, 218]. The unripe fruit is very astringent, a syrup made from it is used in the treatment of diarrhoea and is particularly safe for children[4, 254]. The fruit, and its juice, can be used as a mouthwash or gargle to treat mouth ulcers, gum problems and sore throats[254]. The leaves contain tannin and pectin[240]. Tannin can be used as an astringent whilst pectin has a beneficial effect on the circulatory system and helps to reduce blood pressure[K].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Gum  Pectin  Pectin  Rootstock  Size

A mucilage obtained from the seed coat is used as a gum arabic substitute to add gloss to material[61, 74]. The seed contains 20% mucilage and 15% fatty oils[74]. The fruit is rich in pectin[200]. Pectin is said to protect the body against radiation[201]. The leaves contain 11% tannin[240].

Special Uses

Food Forest

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Succeeds in most soils but prefers a light moist fertile soil and a sunny position[3, 37, 200]. Dislikes very dry or waterlogged soils[202]. Succeeds in semi-shade but does not fruit so well in such a position[202]. Plants also tolerate quite deep shade[219], though they will often not fruit at all in such a position[K]. Plants are hardy to about -15°c[202], though the fruit seldom ripens in the north of Britain unless it is grown against a sunny wall[4]. The quince has been cultivated for over two thousand years for its edible fruit and its seed, though it is not a widely grown crop[4, 46, 61, 132]. It is also much used as a dwarfing rootstock for pears and some other fruits[200]. There are some named varieties[200]. Plants require warm summers in order to fully ripen their fruit[200]. The var. 'Maliformis' ripens well in cooler summers[200]. The plant is heat tolerant in zones 9 through 3. (Plant Hardiness Zones show how well plants withstand cold winter temperatures. Plant Heat Zones show when plants would start suffering from the heat. The Plant Heat Zone map is based on the number of "heat days" experienced in a given area where the temperature climbs to over 86 degrees F (30°C). At this temperature, many plants begin to suffer physiological damage. Heat Zones range from 1 (no heat days) to 12 (210 or more heat days). For example Heat Zone. 11-1 indicates that the plant is heat tolerant in zones 11 through 1.) For polyculture design as well as the above-ground architecture (form - tree, shrub etc. and size shown above) information on the habit and root pattern is also useful and given here if available. The plant growth habit is a standard with a non-suckering single trunk [1-2]. The root pattern is flat with shallow roots forming a plate near the soil surface [1-2].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Plant Propagation

Seed - probably best sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe[K], it can also be sown in February[78]. It requires stratification[98], pre-chill the seed for 18 weeks if it is fresh, whilst old seed will require 2 weeks of warm stratification first and then 18 weeks cold treatment[164]. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the cold frame for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Cuttings of mature wood, November in a cold frame[3, 37]. Layering in spring. Takes 1 year[78]. Suckers, removed in spring[200].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Pseudocydonia sinensisChinese Quince, QuinceTree6.0 5-8 SLMHNM212
Pyrocydonia danielii Tree5.0 5-9  LMHSNM20 

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Botanical References


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Readers comment

Adriana Jalba, plant biologist   Sun Dec 10 2006

I have a comment concerning the content of cyanide in the seeds. Like all the memebers of the Subfamily Prunoideae from the Rosaceae family, the seeds have a high content of cyanide, which is not at all dangerous because is chemical bounded to a sugar molecule, which is a very very stable chemical bound. Not even the low pH from the human stomach can not release the cyanide. In conclusion, is not dangerous.

Ken Fern, Plants for a Future.   Sun Dec 17 2006

Trawling the web, there are conflicting reports on the toxicity of this and other plants in the Rose family. Whilst some people claim that the cyanide is not absorbed by the body, but passes straight through, there are plenty of other reports of people being poisoned by eating the seeds of various members of this family. I myself remember a case a few years ago in Britain where a person dies after eating a whole cup of ground up apple seeds. Personally, I am happy to eat a few seeds, since small quantities of the cyanide found in these plants is beneficial to health, especially in the case of respiratory problems. However, I would not risk eating larger quantities without more scientific proof of their safety.

Renjith R   Thu Apr 26 2007

International Medicinal Plan Growers Consortium

Alicia Aviles   Fri Mar 14 2008

quiero saber si conocen trabajos de identificacion varietal por métodos moleculares en este género en particular con técnicas de pcr Yo comence a diferenciar variedades de Cydonia de coleccion INTA en Argentina provincia de Catamarca pero no conclui mi trabajo con técnica de RAPDs y obtencion de patrones moleculares

Lynn Davis   Sat Sep 20 2008

I have discovered a quince bush in my "new" front yard. It has little quinces on it. Are these fruits just miniature versions of the large variety. Are they just as edible? They look identical, and their odor is somewhat citrus-y. L. Davis, Topeka, KS

david n   Sun Sep 21 2008

From what I can gather (from books) ripe quinces are at least the size of a large apple when ripe. If it's still green and not yellow it's not ripe. I suppose unfavourable growing conditions like little water might produce undersized ripe fruit, but have no reports of this.

John S   Sun Oct 11 2009

Lynn Davis-you probably have Japanese flowering quince, chaenomeles Japonica. You can cut them up and rest them in water. They make "lemonade" John s PDX OR

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