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Chaenomeles speciosa

Rose Family [Rosaceae]

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(Chaenomeles speciosa × japonica)
9th April 2004, a garden in Walkden. Photo: © RWD
A shrub growing up to 1.5m.

8th April 2004, a garden in Walkden. Photo: © RWD
With smallish mid-green leaves.

8th April 2004, a garden in Walkden. Photo: © RWD
And scarlet red flowers (but can also be pink or white).

11th April 2004, a garden in Walkden. Photo: © RWD
Flowers emerge in small bunches along the stem

20th April 2009, a garden in Walkden. Photo: © RWD
Flowers in a spike along the ends of fresh stems, which quickly become woody.

20th April 2009, a garden in Walkden. Photo: © RWD
Flowers have five petals, which are always cupped and narrow down to a stem at the centre of the flower.

20th April 2009, a garden in Walkden. Photo: © RWD
At first the flowers are compact un-opened red spheres.

20th April 2009, a garden in Walkden. Photo: © RWD
Before opening slowly. Sepal tube green behind.

20th April 2009, a garden in Walkden. Photo: © RWD
Petals always cupped.

7th May 2010, a garden in Walkden. Photo: © RWD
With up to 15 stamens.

7th May 2010, a garden in Walkden. Photo: © RWD
Bearing cream-coloured pollen.

7th Nov 2003, a garden in Walkden. Photo: © RWD
The fruits, green at fist in September ripen to yellow but remain very hard.

2nd Oct 2003, a garden in Walkden. Photo: © RWD
Fruits golf-ball sized, slightly knobbly and irregular.

20th April 2009, a garden in Walkden. Photo: © RWD
Leaves are oval gradually tapering to a flattish stalk. They emerge in fours, of un-equal size. Visciously sharp spines emerge from some leaf axils (middle top, centre and lower right).

11th April 2004, a garden in Walkden. Photo: © RWD
Leaves glossy on upper surface tapering into a slightly winged stem.

20th April 2009, a garden in Walkden. Photo: © RWD
Leaves finely toothed.

20th April 2009, a garden in Walkden. Photo: © RWD
New stems can be sparsely hairy (whereas those of Chinese Quince are not - hence the above specimens must be either Japanese Quince Chaenomeles japonica of the hybrid between the two).

Not to be semantically confused with : Quinoa [a plant with similar name but belonging to a differing family].

Easily mis-identified as : Japanese Quince (Chaenomeles japonica) which is grown in gardens but is much less common and grows to but 1m.

Chinese Quince hybridizes with : Japanese Quince (Chaenomeles japonica) to produce haenomeles × superba (photos above) which is also grown in gardens and is intermediate between the two and difficult to differentiate.

No relation to : Quince (Cydonia oblonga) [a plant belonging to a differing family whose fruit are larger, pear-shaped and a light-yellow with a less bitter taste often made into Quince jam].

Growing in a garden this is most likely to be either Chinese Quince (Chaenomeles speciosa) or a garden variety of that. It cannot be Japanese Quince (Chaenomeles japonica) because that only grows to 1m and has glabrous (hairless) stems even when they are young (this specimen has hairy young stems). Clive Stace is a little confusing, suggesting it might also be the hybrid between the two, called Chaenomeles × superba which he also says is a large (>1m) garden shrub, but goes on to say that that it is difficult to identify, having characteristics between the two. Your Author thinks, that since it does not grow to the 3m of Chinese Quince, and has fruit the size of golf balls rather than those of small apples, that it is probably Chaenomeles × superba.

The fruits are golf-ball sized, green at first ripening yellow, very hard and taste very bitter even when fully ripe. They are in-edible raw, and even after cooking with sugar to make a jam are still very bitter and for the most part un-palatable. The fruits are quite unlike the un-related Quince (Cydonia oblonga) which has somewhat larger and less bitter fruits and from which commercially produced jams, jellies and marmalades can be purchased.


The juice from the fresh fruit of Chaenomeles × superba contains many compounds that taste or smell either 'fruity' or resinous:
several monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes:
0.12ppm D-Limonene
0.07ppm β-Myrcene
0.02ppm β-Pinene
0.02ppm α-Humulene

several monoterpene alcohols:
7ppm Methanol
6ppm 1-Penten-3-ol
3.5ppm α-Terpineol
2ppm Carveol
0.7ppm Geraniol

several monoterpene aldehydes:
0.05ppm Nonanal (aka Pelargonaldehyde)
0.05ppm Perilladehyde
0.03ppm Citral (aka Neral or Geranialdehyde)
0.03ppm Undecanal

some monoterpene ketones:
0.08ppm Carvone

and terpene esters:
0.8ppm Ethyl Anthranilate
0.15ppm Geranyl Acetate, 0.06ppm Terpinyl Acetate
and 0.05ppm Citronellyl Acetate

In total: 19.56ppm alcohols, 1.14ppm esters, 0.21ppm aldehydes, 0.28ppm terpene hydrocarbons and 0.21ppm aldehydes.

In the cis-form Carveol is a constituent of Spear Mint and resembles that and Caraway in odour. It is used as a fragrance in perfumes and as a flavouring in sweets and cakes. It exhibits activity against breast cancer.

Terpineol has four isomers, α-Terpineol, β-Terpineol, γ-Terpineol and δ-Terpineol, depending both upon the position of the -OH group and/or the double bond. Apart from β-Terpineol which does not exist in nateure all are usually present with α-Terpineol, depicted above, being the major component. Terpineol has an odour similar to that of Lilac and is used in perfumes and as a flavouring in foodstuffs, but also in disinfectants, polishes and other household products. α-Terpineol occurs in and is the principle aroma constituent of Lapsang Souchong tea imparted to it from the smoke of Pine wood used to dry the tea.

α-Terpinyl Acetate (depicted above) is a monoterpene ester of α-Terpineol and Acetic Acid and used as a flavouring.

Perillaldehyde (aka Perilla Aldehyde) is also found in the non-native herb Perilla (Perilla frutescens) which is in the Mint and Dead-nettle Family Lamiaceae and which resembles Stinging Nettle. It has a minty cinnamon-like odour is used as a food additive and flavouring and also in perfumes to add a touch of 'spiciness'.

[The oxime of Perillaldehyde called Perillartine is 2000 times sweeter than sugar and is used as a sweetener in Japan and in chewing gums, but is not present in Chinese Quince, which is extremely bitter rather than sweet. Note that it does not consist of any sugar units. Having no natural presence it is thus an artificial sweetener, but is not used outside of Japan].

n-Nonanal (aka Pelargonaldehyde), shown, is an alkyl aldehyde with formula C8H17CHO with a strong fruity or floral aroma and is also used in perfumes and as a flavouring. It is produced by the human body and attracts some mosquitos acting in synergy with exhaled CO2.

n-Undecanal, shown, is also an alkyl aldehyde with formula C10H21CHO and it too is used as both a flavour and a fragrance being permitted in foodstuffs.

Ethyl Anthranilate is an amino-benzoate and an ester of Anthranilic Acid, that has been identified as a minor component of Burgundy Pinot Noir wines and has a fruity flavour also used in perfumes. Together with Methyl Anthranilate which occurs naturally more often than other Anthranilates it is a component of many flowers such as Jasmine, Acacia and Hyacinth.

Citronellyl Acetate is an ester of Citronellol and Acetic Acid with a sweet floral rose aroma and an intensely fruity taste which has a slight citrus hint. It is extensively used in perfumery and is also found in the oils from Rose, Geranium, Lemon and Citronella.


The scent of the flowers and fruit contains the following dominant components: the aliphatic esters Ethyl (Z)-4-Decenoate, Ethyl Anisate and Edulan I.

Edulan I is a sesquiterpenoid which is also found in Passionfruit (Passiflora edulis)

Marmelo Oxide and Marmelo Lactone which are present in Quince fruit (Cydonia oblonga) are responsible for most of the characteristic quintessence of Quince fruits. They are also probably present in the so-called 'Japanese Quinces' (species of Chaenomeles).

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(Japanese Quinces)



Chaenomeles speciosa

Rose Family [Rosaceae]