Gardening Magazine

Plant of the Week: Chaenomeles Speciosa

By Davis Landscape Architecture @DavisLandArch


Chaenomeles speciosa Flower (11/03/2012, Kew, London)

Chaenomeles speciosa Flower (11/03/2012, Kew, London)

Position: Full sun to partial Shade

Flowering period: Late winter to Early spring

Soil: Moist, well drained 

Eventual Height: 2m

Eventual Spread: 4m

Hardiness: 5a – 8b

Family: Rosaceae

Chaenomeles speciosa is a thorny, rounded, deciduous or semi evergreen shrub. Its mid green leaves are glossy, alternate, ovate to elliptical, with serrated margins and are up to 9cm long. The bark is brown in color. Its red flowers are showy, 5 petalled, solitary or clustered and usually appear before the leaves. The flowers may also appear white or pink. Its aromatic fruit is a pome (apple like) and is up to 5cm in diameter.

Chaenomeles speciosa, commonly known as Flowering Quince, Japanese Quince or Mugua, is native to Eastern Asia including Korea, Burma and China. It is not native to Japan as the common name suggests and as was previously thought. It was introduced into the UK by Sir Joseph Banks in 1796. The fruit of this shrub has been used as part of Chinese medicine for thousands of years.

The etymological root of the binomial name Chaenomeles is derived from the Greek chaino to ‘gape’ and mhlon ’apple’. Speciosus is from the Latin meaning ‘spectacular’.

Chaenomeles speciosa (11/03/2012, Kew, London)

Chaenomeles speciosa (11/03/2012, Kew, London)

The landscape architect may find Chaenomeles speciosa useful as an attractive late winter flowering shrub which provides an impenetrable barrier when planted en mass. It also forms an effective barrier when planted as an informal hedge. It may also be fan or espalier trained against a wall.

Ecologically, C. speciosa attracts bees who pollinate its flower.

The Royal Horticultural Society has given the varieties C. speciosa ‘Geisha Girl’, C. speciosa ‘Apple Blossom’ and C. speciosa ‘Moerloosei’ their prestigious Award of Garden Merit in 1993.

C. speciosa prefers moist, moderately fertile, well-drained soils. It tolerates most pH of soil.

C. speciosa requires little maintenance. If pruning is require, it should be carried out in spring after the flowers have finished.

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