Monday, April 14, 2008

Bloom Day April - Japanese Quince, Chaenomeles

P.S. Thanks to Julie at Gardening and other Stuff the Japanese quince has a name: 'Toyo Nishiki'

I was all set to post a bunch of pictures of different flowers but decided to showcase a wonderful specimen instead. Even if it threatens to poke out my eye with two inch thorns every time I go by with the lawn mower, the flowers in spring make avoiding the hazard worthwhile. Well...more than worthwhile. I don't know the name of this particular variety but I much prefer it over the more common all red varieties.

This is a flowering quince or more correctly Chaenomeles, sometimes called a Japanese quince and not to be confused with the Quince (Cydonia oblonga) used for eating. I also planted two Cydonia oblonga but the flowers were not as prominent or beautiful and it was buggy and prone to powdery mildew fungus. I bought the Cydonia oblonga because I thought it was the same plant as the ones at the "Cloisters" in New York but they are actually Medlars. I bought a Medlar last year which was grafted onto a hardier stock but the Medlar part died during the mild winter. :(
So no Medlar but the stock is sprouting. I may keep it to see what it becomes. Whew, what tortured drivel.

Some information about Chaenomeles taxonomy from Wikipedia: "In the 19th and 20th centuries the name "japonica" was widely used (although, since japonica is a specific epithet which is shared by many other plants, this common name is particularly unhelpful). Originally used to refer to C. japonica, the latter common name was (and still is) often loosely applied to Chaenomeles, regardless of their species. The most commonly cultivated chaenomeles referred to as "japonica" are actually the hybrid C. × superba and C. speciosa, not C. japonica."

Another beautiful salmon colored Chaenomeles is the Chaenomeles x superba (Cameo). Take a look and see if you don't agree. I may have to try to obtain this one too.

Here's a wonderful website showing pictures of several Chaenomeles and other Japanese plants.

The website has a photo of a Chaenomeles that looks very similar to mine. So the plant may be a Chaenomeles speciosa 'Moerloosei' or 'Apple Blossom'. From the Floridata website: "Description
This ugly duckling of the garden spends most of the year as a shrubby tangle of branches and nondescript foliage. However, for a brief few weeks in late winter to early spring, it transforms into a ravishing beauty. Flowering quince is a deciduous shrub growing from 5-10 ft (1.5-3 m) in height and about as wide. The simple leaves are arranged alternately on the stems which are typically thorny and densely tangled. Very early in the season, the bare branches are adorned with brilliant 1.5-2 in (4-5 cm) blossoms. The Japanese have worked for centuries identifying preferred selections and creating hybrids of flowering quince that bloom in shades of scarlet, crimson, rose and brilliant red. This is a very popular garden item that is frequently planted. There is white tinged with pink and pink tinged with white and white tinged with lemon and, well.. you get the idea. The hybrid flowering quince, Chaenomeles x superba, is a cross between C. speciosa and C. japonica and it also is available in a range of colors and flower shapes including single, semi-double and double. The shrub produces a hard greenish-yellow round fruit that is about 2 in (5 cm) in diameter."

I have never seen fruit on our plant so it may be a sterile hybrid.


Blogger Carol said...

The flowering quince is beautiful and definitely worth showcasing for bloom day. Seeing yours makes me want to make room for one in my garden!

Carol, May Dreams Gardens

6:22 PM  
Blogger Ki said...

Hi Carol, Thanks for the very fast comment! The quince can be pruned hard to keep it manageable. This one in particular seems to grow up rather than out so it's fairly easy to keep it columnar in form. If you have a little space this would make a very nice plant for your garden along with probably all the other planting ideas you came back with from Austin! ;)

6:42 PM  
Anonymous Nan Ondra said...

Beautiful photos, Ki, and thanks for the interesting background info on chaenomeles too. I'm trying Cydonia oblonga as well, but hearing about your experience makes me wonder if it will be a mistake.

6:46 PM  
Blogger Ki said...

Thanks Nan. I don't remember the variety of Cydonia oblonga I bought but I think it was from Miller Nurseries. I just searched their online catalog but they only list a dwarf and I know I didn't buy that one. However the leaves were quite small about the size of a nickel or a quarter while I've seen some with much larger leaves which would have been preferable. The trees I bought were supposed to have very large fruit but only tiny ones appeared not any larger than a seckel pear. That's the trouble with buying things from a catalog - often plants are mis-characterized and the colors exaggerated. ;(

You may very well have a different experience depending on the variety you bought. Good luck. I'd love to see photos of it when it starts to leaf out.

7:10 PM  
Blogger Leslie said...

Lovely photos...and great info. That's too bad about the medlar...maybe the Cloisters plants are more protected in their enclosure? The size of your quince would be good on my fence line but the thorns would not be smart for I'll have to enjoy your photos instead!

7:12 PM  
Blogger joco said...


There are 'reds' and then there are 'REDS'.

I agree, some are too much 'in your face', but please take a look at mine, with this lovely coral colour.
here and here.

Wish I were allowed to send you a few 'quinces' so you could plant them. (Regulations are tight as regards plant material, I remember). It works, I've done it and the colour is pretty similar, as there are no other quinces around, so it must self-pollinated.

BTW, I found that the link you put on Carol's page today doesn't work.

I'll be reading your macro page, as I am due another camera.
Best regards,

10:05 PM  
Blogger Ki said...

Hi Leslie,
I bought the Common Medlar (Mespilus germanica) and I believe it is supposed to be a very hardy tree perhaps to USDA zone 4. It is such a shame because I placed it in one of the few remaining "choice" spots in the yard to showcase the tree. Maybe this will be a good place for the Salmon colored Chaenomeles if I can find one :) Thank you for your comment.

Hi Joco,
You certainly do have a lovely colored Chaenomeles (I wish that name wasn't so long or hard to spell. I guess I should copy and paste.) I can see that one could easily become a collector if you had enough space to accommodate a few of these plants. They look especially nice growing against a stone wall though unfortunately we don't have one.

Unfortunately there are many regulations and restrictions about sending pomme fruit plants. Thanks for thinking about sending one this way. I've spotted some large leafed and fruited quince at our local bank. I may do a little light fingering and cadge a fruit or two to obtain seeds. ;)

Apparently I messed up the link on Carol's blog. Since it's a comment I won't be able to fix it but my name link works so it's ok.

I've terribly neglected my Macro blog. My intention was to take many amazing macro photos but the few that I've taken are less than breathtaking and I find it difficult to find time to take enough pictures to become good at it. Good luck in your search for a new camera. There are so many good ones out there now for very reasonable prices. Thank you for stopping by.

4:23 AM  
Blogger DeeMom said...

beautiful blossoms

Great info

8:51 AM  
Blogger Entangled said...

Very pretty! The red ones are popular in central Virginia, but I didn't realize there were so many other cultivars available. The thorn thing keeps me in the undecided category, but I suspect they might be a good deer deterrent.

8:53 AM  
Blogger Julie said...

Ki, the name of your variety is Toyo Nishiki Flowering Quince. Mine, with each passing year gets more and more beautiful.

9:24 AM  
Blogger Annie in Austin said...

The reddish orange kind appear in old neighborhoods around here, Ki and I like them - but I've never seen anything as delicately colored as your chaenomeles. Sometimes in old novels a character may refer to the 'japonicas' when landscape or gardening comes into the story - guess these Japanese quinces are what they mean.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

10:33 AM  
Blogger kate smudges said...

Those are beautiful blooms, Ki - I love the way the petals are coloured with pink but not uniformly. Good thing too, that squirrels don't like them. I'd be even more bugged if these blooms got eaten. They are exquisite. I wish Japanese Quince grew here.

Tortured drivel? Hardly - I enjoy readings these thoughts.

5:23 PM  
Blogger Dee/reddirtramblings said...

Beautiful photo and an informative post. Thank you and Happy GBBD.~~Dee

6:56 PM  
Blogger Sarah Laurence Blog said...

Good to see more Japanese blooms. I've only seen the Japanese quince in red, but it is lovely in pink - magnolia color - only your magnolia below is yellow. It makes you really see the familiar to find it in new hues.

6:16 AM  
Blogger Ki said...

Hi Deemom,
Thanks for stopping by. These stood out of all the flower photos I took so decided to just show them.

I Entangled,
We just happened to find this at a nursery one day - a serendip. I too thought they only came in red. The red ones are ubiquitous here but have never seen a white or white pink like the one we have. The thorns can be nasty but I don't know if they're a deterrent for hungry deer. We have ours planted close to the deck which the deer avoid so ours have never been browsed although a nearby Japanese maple was shredded and even bitten in half by a maniac deer. So perhaps the thorns do work. I really like the salmon colored one so may be in the hunt for one. ;)

Hi Julie and thanks for the name! The plant we bought didn't have a tag so we didn't know the name of it. Since we pruned ours back hard last fall we have few flowers this year. But now that I know the flowers grown on second year wood we'll do less trimming. Our plant does sucker freely so that's an aspect I don't like - having to trim off the new growth.

Hi Annie,
There is a bush next to a stone wall on the Princeton U. campus that looks just stunning with the red flowers against the dark gray rock. The red ones were the only kind I've seen until we spotted this one at a local nursery. Interesting about the mention of "japonicas" in old novels. It must have been commonly referred to by that name for anyone to understand what plant the author was writing about. It's certainly easier than Chaenomeles.


Hi Kate,
The buds are more uniformly colored than the open flowers which can be all pink or almost all white to the more common white with pink. Squirrel #16 was caught this weekend but the intervals of catching one gets longer and longer. They have never bothered the quince and I don't know if they would eat any part of the plant but luckily there aren't too many things nearby to attract them either. Unfortunately since most of the Japanese plants which seem to be numerous come from a temperate climate, they don't do well much below Zone 5. Thanks for your kind support.


Hi Dee,
Happy GBBD to you too and thanks for stopping by to take a look. I will stop by your blog when I'm not so pressed for time.

Hello Sarah,
The red is very common though I wonder why the white and pink ones are not seen more? I thought magnolias were only white because that's all I was exposed to, mainly Magnolia grandiflora the southern magnolia of movie and novel fame. It's only when I started collecting them that I realized there were so many variations in color. The yellow ones are uncommon and quite interesting because of their scarcity. Thank you for your comment.

7:16 PM  

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