Herb: Quince


Latin name: Cydonia oblonga


Synonyms: Cydonia vulgaris, Pyrus cydonia


Family: Rosaceae (Rose Family)



Medicinal use of Quince:

The stem bark is astringent, it is used in the treatment of ulcers. The seed is a mild but reliable laxative, astringent and anti-inflammatory. When soaked in water, the seed swells up to form a mucilaginous mass. This has a soothing and demulcent action when taken internally and is used in the treatment of respiratory diseases, especially in children. This mucilage is also applied externally to minor burns etc. The fruit is antivinous, astringent, cardiac, carminative, digestive, diuretic, emollient, expectorant, pectoral, peptic, refrigerant, restorative, stimulant and tonic. The unripe fruit is very astringent, a syrup made from it is used in the treatment of diarrhoea and is particularly safe for children. The fruit, and its juice, can be used as a mouthwash or gargle to treat mouth ulcers, gum problems and sore throats. The leaves contain tannin and pectin. Tannin can be used as an astringent whilst pectin has a beneficial effect on the circulatory system and helps to reduce blood pressure.

Description of the plant:



Plant:
Deciduous
Tree

Height:
7.5 m
(25 feet)

Flovering:
May

Habitat of the herb:

Damp rich soils in hedgerows and thickets.

Edible parts of Quince:

Fruit - raw or cooked. When grown in warm temperate or tropical climates, the fruit can become soft and juicy and is suitable for eating raw. In cooler climates such as Britain, however, it remains hard and astringent and needs to be cooked before being eaten. It is used in jellies, preserves etc. The cooked fruit adds a delicious flavour to cooked apples. Strongly aromatic with a firm but rather gritty flesh. The fruit is rich in pectin. The fruit is about 10m long and 9cm wide, tapering to the stalk. A nutritional analysis is available. A drink can be made by adding the dried crushed seed to water, simmering for 5 minutes and sweetening to taste. Flowers. No further details are given.

Other uses of the herb:

A mucilage obtained from the seed coat is used as a gum arabic substitute to add gloss to material. The seed contains 20% mucilage and 15% fatty oils. The fruit is rich in pectin. Pectin is said to protect the body against radiation. The leaves contain 11% tannin.

Propagation of Quince:

Seed - probably best sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe, it can also be sown in February. It requires stratification, pre-chill the seed for 18 weeks if it is fresh, whilst old seed will require 2 weeks of warm stratification first and then 18 weeks cold treatment. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the cold frame for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Cuttings of mature wood, November in a cold frame. Layering in spring. Takes 1 year. Suckers, removed in spring.

Cultivation of the herb:

Damp rich soils in hedgerows and thickets.

Known hazards of Cydonia oblonga:

The seed is poisonous. Like many of the species in the family Rosaceae it contains hydrogen cyanide (this is the substance that gives almonds their characteristic flavour). In small quantities, hydrogen cyanide has been shown to stimulate respiration and improve digestion, it is also claimed to be of benefit in the treatment of cancer. In excess, however, it can cause respiratory failure and even death.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.