top of page

Quince - Cydonia oblonga

Quince, Cydonia oblonga, is native to Iran and Turkey. It is easily recognisable by it's unusual rectangular shape, living up to it's 'oblonga' name. Quince used to be considered old-fashioned, but of late have made a comeback. Quince pastes are a common addition to the classy cheese platters, and the pretty pink blossoms in the garden each spring are also very welcome. 

True quinces (Cydonia oblonga) are part of the Rosaceae family, along with apples and pears. They are also closely related to the ornamental quince (Chaenomeles japonica), which produce small, furry fruit borne from very early spring blooms. Chinese quince (Pseudocydonia sinensis) are reputedly easy to cook with as the fruit have a smooth skin.  

Quince trees are hardy and perform well in most areas of New Zealand. They grow and produce best in a location with full sun and free-draining soil – though they will tolerate some and dry spots.

The trees prefer a temperate location but still grow well in hot, dry and humid regions. Decidious, and loving the cooler weather, Quince can handle frosts down to -20˚C. Quinces require less chilling than other fruits – only around 100 - 400 hours – which even in the warmer areas of New Zealand should be fine. 

They require very little care or attention, and are not susceptible to many pests or diseases. Quince leaf spot is somewhat common, though difficult to prevent, and is mostly an aesthetic issue as it hardly affects the tree or fruit itself. Without pruning, the branches can become congested but a thinning out prune every second winter is usually sufficient. 

Quince trees make a stunning garden feature, usually trained with a single trunk to a multi-branched tree. The trees are quite long lived, to around 50 years, and grow to three to five metres tall. The soft-pink cupped blossoms in spring are large but delicate, along the dark stems. For smaller gardens, quinces can be espalier-trained. 

A mature quince tree will produce up to 20kg of fruit each season, which is usually sufficient for the whole extended family! The fruit is harvested in late summer to early autumn, when it turns from green to yellowish and becomes fragrant. The fruit will hang on the tree into the winter, but will be damaged by frosts so anything left can be for the birds to enjoy. Store unblemished fruit in single layer trays, ensuring that fruit won't touch each other. Quinces can store for up to two or three months in a cool, dark place.

Quince does not make for good fresh eating, being dry, tough and tannin-tart. Once cooked, however, the fruit transforms into spicy, rich pink flesh. With its high pectin content, the fruit is perfect for preserves like jelly and paste; indeed, the original marmalade recipe used quinces. Quinces have such a lovely fragrance that they are great just sitting in the fruitbowl. Romans used the oil for perfume, and the essential oil is used in aromatherapy for its anti-inflammatory, soothing, properties. 

Quince varieties

Click on a row, or scroll right, to view more information. To look up your climate zone click here.

Fruit Type
Months Harvest
Good Keeper
bottom of page