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Japanese Quince

Chaenomeles japonica

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Rosaceae (Rose)
Also in this family:
Acute Leaf-lobed Lady's-mantle, Alpine Cinquefoil, Alpine Lady's-mantle, Ampfield Cotoneaster, Arran Service Tree, Arran Whitebeam, Barren Strawberry, Bastard Agrimony, Bastard Service Tree, Bearberry Cotoneaster, Bird Cherry, Blackthorn, Bloody Whitebeam, Bramble, Bristol Whitebeam, Broad-leaved Whitebeam, Broadtooth Lady's-mantle, Bronze Pirri-pirri-bur, Bullace Plum, Bullate Cotoneaster, Burnet Rose, Catacol Whitebeam, Caucasian Lady's-mantle, Cheddar Whitebeam, Cherry Laurel, Cherry Plum, Chinese Photinia, Cloudberry, Clustered Lady's-mantle, Common Agrimony, Common Hawthorn, Common Lady's-mantle, Common Medlar, Common Ninebark, Common Whitebeam, Crab Apple, Creeping Chinese Bramble, Creeping Cinquefoil, Crimean Lady's-mantle, Cultivated Apple, Cultivated Pear, Cut-leaved Blackberry, Damson, Devon Whitebeam, Dewberry, Diel's Cotoneaster, Dog Rose, Doward Whitebeam, Dropwort, Elm-leaved Bramble, English Whitebeam, Entire-leaved Cotoneaster, False Salmonberry, Field Rose, Firethorn, Fodder Burnet, Fragrant Agrimony, Franchet's Cotoneaster, Garden Lady's-mantle, Garden Strawberry, Giant Meadowsweet, Glaucous Dog Rose, Goatsbeard Spiraea, Gough's Rock Whitebeam, Great Burnet, Greengage Plum, Grey-leaved Whitebeam, Hairless Lady's-mantle, Hairy Lady's-mantle, Hautbois Strawberry, Himalayan Blackberry, Himalayan Cotoneaster, Himalayan Whitebeam, Hoary Cinquefoil, Hollyberry Cotoneaster, Hupeh Rowan, Hybrid Cinquefoil, Hybrid Geum, Irish Whitebeam, Japanese Cherry, Japanese Rose, Jew's Mallow, Juneberry, Lancaster Whitebeam, Late Cotoneaster, Least Lady's-mantle, Least Whitebeam, Leigh Woods Whitebeam, Ley's Whitebeam, Liljefor's Whitebeam, Littleleaf Cotoneaster, Llangollen Whitebeam, Llanthony Whitebeam, Lleyn Cotoneaster, Loganberry, Many-flowered Rose, Margaret's Whitebeam, Marsh Cinquefoil, Meadowsweet, Midland Hawthorn, Mougeot's Whitebeam, Mountain Ash, Mountain Avens, Mountain Sibbaldia, Moupin's Cotoneaster, No Parking Whitebeam, Ocean Spray, Orange Whitebeam, Pale Bridewort, Pale Lady's-mantle, Parsley Piert, Pirri-pirri-bur, Plymouth Pear, Portuguese Laurel, Purple-flowered Raspberry, Quince, Raspberry, Rock Cinquefoil, Rock Lady's-mantle, Rock Whitebeam, Round-leaved Dog Rose, Round-leaved Whitebeam, Rum Cherry, Russian Cinquefoil, Salad Burnet, Sargent's Rowan, Scannell's Whitebeam, Service Tree, Sharp-toothed Whitebeam, Sherard's Downy Rose, Shining Lady's-mantle, Ship Rock Whitebeam, Short-styled Rose, Shrubby Cinquefoil, Silver Lady's-mantle, Silverweed, Slender Parsley Piert, Slender-spined Bramble, Small-flowered Sweetbriar, Small-leaved Sweetbriar, Soft Downy Rose, Somerset Whitebeam, Sorbaria, Sour Cherry, Southern Downy Rose, Southern Lady's-mantle, Spineless Acaena, Spring Cinquefoil, St. Lucie's Cherry, Steeplebush, Stern's Cotoneaster, Stirton's Whitebeam, Stone Bramble, Sulphur Cinquefoil, Swedish Service Tree, Swedish Whitebeam, Sweet Briar, Symond's Yat Whitebeam, Tengyueh Cotoneaster, Thimbleberry, Thin-leaved Whitebeam, Tibetan Cotoneaster, Tormentil, Trailing Tormentil, Tree Cotoneaster, Trefoil Cinquefoil, Twin-cliffs Whitebeam, Two-spined Acaena, Wall Cotoneaster, Water Avens, Waterer's Cotoneaster, Waxy Lady's-mantle, Welsh Cotoneaster, Welsh Whitebeam, White Burnet, White's Whitebeam, White-stemmed Bramble, Wild Cherry, Wild Pear, Wild Plum, Wild Service Tree, Wild Strawberry, Willmott's Whitebeam, Willow-leaved Bridewort, Willow-leaved Cotoneaster, Wineberry, Wood Avens, Wye Whitebeam, Yellow-flowered Strawberry
Deciduous shrub
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
2 metres tall
Hedgerows, woodland.

Red, 5 petals
The flowers can be red, orange, white or pink. Red is the most common colour. The flowers are bowl-shaped and appear together in clusters. Each individual flower is up to 4cm across. Pollinated by bees.
Golden yellow fruit, like small apples. The seeds are reddish brown and ripen from November to January.
A bushy deciduous shrub with dark green leaves that are glossy and oval. The stems have a few thorns. In Britain Japanese Quince is normally seen as a cultivated plant but occasionally it self-seeds into the wild.
The fruit have a slightly sweet fragrance to them.
Other Names:
Dwarf Quince, Japanese Flowering Quince, Maule's Quince, Ornamental Quince.
Frequency (UK):

Other Information


Chaenomeles japonica, commonly known as Japanese quince, is a species of flowering plant in the family Rosaceae. It is native to Japan, China and Korea, but it is also cultivated in other parts of the world for its fruit and as an ornamental plant. It is a deciduous shrub or small tree that can grow up to 3-4 meters tall, it has a spreading habit and thorny branches. The flowers are usually red, pink or white, five-petaled and appear in spring before the leaves. The fruit is a pome, similar to a small apple, it has a yellow or greenish-yellow skin and it is hard and not edible when raw, but it is used for making jams, jellies, and marmalades, and it is also used for making traditional beverages and for cooking. The Japanese quince is considered as a hardy and versatile plant, it can tolerate a wide range of soils and conditions, and it is tolerant of drought and frost. It prefers full sun and well-drained soil. It is also used as an ornamental plant, it is also used in traditional medicine, and it is also used as a food source for wild animals.


Japanese quince, also known as Chaenomeles japonica, is a deciduous shrub native to Japan, Korea, and China. It is a popular ornamental plant, valued for its stunning flowers, hardy nature, and adaptability to a wide range of growing conditions.

Appearance and Characteristics

Japanese quince grows to a height of about 1 to 2 meters, with a spread of 1.5 to 2 meters. It has a dense, twiggy growth habit and produces sharp, spiny branches. The leaves are small, oval, and glossy, with a dark green color. The flowers, which appear in early spring, are the plant's most attractive feature. They are single, bowl-shaped, and come in shades of pink, red, and white. The fruit that follows the flowers is small, apple-shaped, and yellow-green in color.

Cultivation and Care

Japanese quince is a hardy plant that thrives in full sun to partial shade. It is tolerant of a wide range of soil types, as long as they are well-draining. The shrub benefits from regular watering, especially during hot and dry spells. It can be pruned in late winter or early spring to maintain its shape and encourage new growth. The spiny branches should be handled with care, as they can cause injury.

Uses and Benefits

Japanese quince is primarily grown for its ornamental value. The showy flowers make it a popular choice for hedgerows, borders, and mass plantings. The shrub's ability to tolerate poor soil and drought conditions also makes it useful for erosion control and restoration projects. The fruit is edible, but it is generally too sour and astringent to be eaten raw. It can be used to make jams, jellies, and preserves, however.

In addition to its aesthetic and culinary uses, Japanese quince has some medicinal properties. The fruit and seeds contain compounds that have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects. The plant has also been used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat a range of ailments, including coughs, digestive problems, and skin conditions.

Japanese quince is a versatile and attractive shrub that is well-suited to a variety of growing conditions. Whether you are looking for a low-maintenance ornamental plant or a natural solution for erosion control, this plant is definitely worth considering. With its striking flowers and hardy nature, it is sure to add beauty and interest to any landscape.


Japanese quince can be propagated by both seed and cuttings. However, growing from seed is a slow and unpredictable process, and the resulting plants may not retain the characteristics of the parent plant. Cuttings taken in late summer or early autumn are a more reliable way to propagate Japanese quince. Cuttings should be about 10 to 15 centimeters long and taken from current year's growth. They should be dipped in rooting hormone and planted in a well-draining potting mix. Keep the cuttings moist and in a bright, sheltered location until they have rooted.


There are several cultivars of Japanese quince available, each with its own unique characteristics. Some of the most popular varieties include:

  1. 'Pink Lady' - has pink flowers and a spreading habit.

  2. 'Texas Scarlet' - has bright red flowers and is more drought-tolerant than other cultivars.

  3. 'Apple Blossom' - has white flowers with pink edges and is a compact grower.

  4. 'Crimson and Gold' - has deep red flowers and golden-yellow fruit.

  5. 'Nicoline' - has double pink flowers and is a compact grower.

Insects and Diseases

Japanese quince is generally a disease-resistant plant, but it can be susceptible to some pests, including scale insects and aphids. These pests can be controlled with insecticidal soap or horticultural oil. The shrub may also be susceptible to fire blight, a bacterial disease that causes the branches to turn brown and die back. Prune out any infected branches as soon as possible to prevent the spread of the disease.

Japanese quince is a beautiful and versatile shrub that offers many benefits to gardeners and homeowners. With its striking flowers, adaptability to a wide range of growing conditions, and ease of care, it is an excellent choice for anyone looking to add interest and beauty to their landscape. Whether grown for its ornamental value or its medicinal properties, Japanese quince is sure to be a rewarding and worthwhile addition to any garden.

Uses in Traditional Japanese Culture

Japanese quince has been used in traditional Japanese culture for many centuries. In Japan, it is known as "karin" and is highly valued for its medicinal properties. The fruit and seeds are used in herbal medicine to treat a range of ailments, including respiratory problems, digestive issues, and skin conditions. The plant is also used in tea ceremonies and as a decorative element in ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arrangement.

In addition to its medicinal and cultural uses, Japanese quince has been used in Japan to make a type of alcoholic beverage known as "karinshu". The fruit is fermented with sugar and water to produce a sweet, fruity wine with a distinctive quince flavor.


Japanese quince is a versatile and useful plant that offers many benefits to gardeners and homeowners. Its stunning flowers, hardy nature, and adaptability to a range of growing conditions make it a popular choice for both ornamental and practical uses. Whether grown for its beauty, its fruit, or its medicinal properties, Japanese quince is sure to add value and interest to any landscape. So, if you're looking for a plant that is both beautiful and useful, Japanese quince is definitely worth considering.


Japanese Quince filmed at Grange-over-sands Promenade, Cumbria on the 16th April 2023.


Music credits
Longing and Concern by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license.

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Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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