What we grow - Biodiversity



The quince (“Mala, quae vocamus cotonea et Graeci cydonia, ex Creta insula advecta”: taken from “Naturalis Historia” by Pliny, in which the quince is mentioned, in Latin “cotoneum/cotonium”, exported from the island of Crete where the city of Cidòne was located – in Greek Kydon) is the fruit of the quince tree (Cydonia oblonga) belonging to the Rosaceae family and to the genus Cydonia. It is one of the oldest known fruit trees: it was cultivated as early as 2000 B.C. by the Babylonians, while in Greek mythology it was a fruit consecrated to Aphrodite, a symbol of fertility and popularly considered a pledge of love, so much so that Plutarch himself tells how in Sparta, by decree of Solon, newly married young girls were obliged to eat a quince before accessing the thalamus. In Roman times it was well known, being mentioned by Cato, Pliny and Virgil. A completely different meaning, however, when the quince is held in the hand by the Child Jesus (Like the apple or the pomegranate), in which it is considered a symbol of redemption.


Quince (Sometimes also called quince pear, as some varieties have an elongated shape similar to a pear) is a typical autumn fruit and is harvested in November. Intense golden yellow in color, they are knobs of variable size (Sometimes very large in some varieties) asymmetrical, maliform or pear-shaped. The peel of the fruit is thickly covered with hair that disappears when ripe and is in any case easily removable. The pulp is easily oxidized, not very sweet and astringent with a certain amount of tannin. The seeds are polygonal, numerous, often agglutinated together by a layer of mucilage. The quince (It is the only species of the genus Cydonia) looks like a small tree or shrub, deciduous and broad-leaved, which can reach 5-8 m in height. The plant also adapts to relatively poor soils as long as they are well drained, it suffers from excess limestone. Simple alternating leaves are 6–11 centimeters long, with entire margin, pubescent (Finely hairy). The flowers are white or pink, with five petals, with corollas of 5-7 centimeters in diameter; flowering occurs late (Late April – early May), and occurs after the leaves have been released.


The dried leaves of the quince are toxic, due to the presence of amygdalin; however, in the past, the decoction of dried leaves was exploited for its anti-helminthic properties. For its positive gastrointestinal function, quince is considered a panacea in all respects: it boasts tonic, astringent and anti-inflammatory properties of the digestive system, while the tannins contained in the quince are able to protect the mucous membrane of the intestine. In addition, it contains organic acids, including malic, useful for promoting digestion. Consumed cooked, quince has a marked laxative property, stimulating and promoting intestinal motility thanks to the generous presence of fibers and pectins. In cosmetics, quince is used for seeds which, as we have seen, are agglomerated thanks to a mucilaginous layer that unites them: the mucilages exert an appreciable protective activity against skin dehydration, as well as counteracting the onset of wrinkles. It also seems that quince is a good natural remedy for coughs and sore throats (In the form of decoction or maceration) and loss of appetite.


Almost all varieties of quince are self-sterile, so to have fruiting it is necessary to plant or have at least two different varieties present to pollinate each other, while some are partially self-fertile. In any case, it is advisable to take advantage of cross-pollination anyway. Given the limited size of quince plants, also governed by appropriate pruning, the quinces find space and are still cultivated in home gardens and orchards. The fruit was widely consumed up to a century ago, but today it has become a rarity and is considered in the forgotten or minor fruit (Also called ancient fruit). Given the limited size of the plant and the good grafting affinity, the quince is used as rootstock for the pear tree in industrial crops (Not all pear cultivars are compatible). Cultivars differ for multiple reasons, including fruit shape, color, ripening time and size. Here are some of the most popular:

  • Apple shaped: Portogallo, Mollesca, Champion, Ronda, Maliforme Tencara;
  • Pear shaped: Bazine, Gigante of Vrania, Lescovatz, Smirne.