- The Quince (Cydonia oblonga) is the sole member of the genus Cydonia and native to warm-temperate southwest Asia in the Caucasus region. It is a small deciduous tree, growing 5-8 m tall and 4-6 m wide, related to apples and pears, and like them has a pome fruit, which is bright golden yellow when mature, pear-shaped, 7-12 cm long and 6-9 cm broad. The leaves are alternately arranged, simple, 6-11 cm long, with an entire margin and densely pubescent with fine white hairs.
- The immature fruit is green, with dense grey-white pubescence which mostly (but not all) rubs off before maturity in late autumn when the fruit changes colour to yellow with hard flesh that is strongly perfumed. The flowers, produced in spring after the leaves, are white or pink, 5 cm across, with five petals. Quince is used as a food plant by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Brown-tail, Bucculatrix bechsteinella, Bucculatrix pomifoliella, Coleophora cerasivorella, Coleophora malivorella, Green Pug and Winter Moth.
- Quince is frost hardy and requires a cold period below 7 °C to flower properly. The tree is self fertile however yield can benefit from cross fertilization. The fruit can be left on the tree to ripen further which softens the fruit to the point where it can be eaten raw in warmer climates, but should be picked before the first frosts.
- In Malta, a jam is made from the fruit. According to local tradition, a tea-spoon of the jam dissolved in a cup of boiling water relieves intestinal discomfort. The quince, used as a rootstock for grafted plants, has the property of stunting the growth of pears, of forcing them to produce relatively more fruit-bearing branches, instead of vegetative growth, and of accelerating the maturity of the fruit. In parts of Afghanistan, the quince seeds are collected and boiled and then ingested to combat pneumonia.
- Pears belong to the Malaceae family, which also includes the apple and quince. U.S. fresh pear consumption has been increasing gradually over the last three decades, but declining production in more recent years has slowed the trend. Americans now consume an average of 3.1 pounds of fresh pears per person yearly, holding fairly steady from the 1990s but up from 2.4 pounds in the 1970s.
- Imports have helped maintain a fairly steady supply of fresh-market pears in the United States in the last several years. With volumes up substantially from the 1970s, imports’ role in domestic consumption have more than quadrupled to an average of 15 percent during 2000-02. About half of the imports come from Argentina and more than one-fourth are from Chile. Rounding the top five international suppliers of fresh pears to the U.S. market are South Korea, China, and New Zealand.
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