I first encountered this spectacular quince species at the Burbank Experimental Earm in Sebastopol, California. Notable for its massive fruit, which is at first a light green then turning yellow as it ripens. Among the apples, Sorbus domestic, and a number of other surviving Burbank species this one seems to be growing strong and quite productive.
The tree is a deciduous, semi-evergreen tree in the Rosaceae family (Rose, Pear, Apple, Loquat). Native to Eastern Asia in China this is the sole species in the Pseudocydonia genus. Previously Pseudocydonia was placed in the Asian genus Chaenomeles, however differs in that Pseudocydonia lacks thorns and produces single flowers. The Chinese Quince is closely related to the European Quince, Cydonia bologna. The two species differ in that Chinese quince has somewhat serrated leaves and smooth fruited skin. The fruit on the Burbank Hybrids also appear to grow larger.
The tree is referred to as mùguā-hǎitáng (木瓜海棠).In Chinese, mùguā (木瓜) also means, “papaya”.
Grows 8-10 m long. The fruit is a large ovoid pome 12–17 cm long with five carpels; it gives off an intense, sweet smell and it ripens in late autumn.
The large fruit is hard and astringent, however after a period of frost the fruit does become a bit softer and less astringent. The fruit can be used in the same way as quince, poached, baked or used for making jam. The tree is also grown as an ornamental in Southern Europe.
In Korea it is used to make a preserved quince and quince tea.
The bark and trunk of larger trees are highly ornamental. The wood is frequently used in Japan for shamisen, a three-stringed traditional Japanese musical instrument derived from the Chinese instrument sanxian.
The fruit is used extensively in Traditional Chinese Medicine to treat rheumatoid arthritis. Recent pharmacological studies suggest that extracts of phytochemical in the fruit have antioxidant and antiviral properties.