QUINCE CHAMPION Little is known of the history, but it might have some descendancy from the ‘third’ shape of quinces – the oblong form mentioned by Forsyth at the end of the 18th century. Vigorous bushes, with heavy crops of longish, apple-shaped, golden yellow fruit. The fuller shape makes them slightly easier to peel.



QUINCE LITTLE ICKFORD PINEAPPLE An old unknown variety of quince which, along with Little Ickford Small, below, was brought to our attention by Mrs Storey who has an old orchard, with several important old fruit trees at Little Ickford, Buckinghamshire. The fruit is large and irregular, having very pronounced green sepals and is ribbed and knobby around the eye. A dumpy pear shape with a distinctive small ring of greeny brown russet at the stalk. It has a very rich cooked flavour, with a hint of pineapple and orange, as well as quince. Granular but yielding flesh. *



QUINCE LITTLE ICKFORD SMALL Slightly smaller than some quinces, it is pear shaped but dumpy, again with very pronounced long wide green sepals in a deep eye, ridged and with a dark brown russet snout at the stalk. When cooked it has softer flesh than Portugal or Vranja, but keeps its shape fully. It is quite resistant to breaking down, and has a sharpness and colour in between Vranja and Portugal. The flavour and after taste are very good and flesh is soft, melting and fibrous – rather like that of a mango. *






QUINCE MEECH'S PROLIFIC An American variety, which was found in Connecticut around 1880, and named after the Rev. W.W. Meech, who was known for his interest in quinces, according to Edward Bunyard (1920). It became famous for its early and prolific fruit production. Roach (1985) reports that Meech selected it from his collection, this one possibly having been raised around 1850, and having previously gone by the name of Orange Quince. This was a term which he says was generally used for the apple-shaped quince (though in the early 19th century it was regarded in Britain as distinct from both apple and pear shaped quinces). We do not know his sources, but the Meech’s Prolific of today is not apple shaped, but pear shaped, as reported by Bunyard. Vigorous bushes, with large flowers and large, pear-shaped fruit.


QUINCE PORTUGAL An old variety introduced to Britain by Tradescant in 1611, but probably known in antiquity. Light yellow, turning orange, pear-shaped fruit, which ripens a little earlier than most. It breaks down more easily than Vranja. The flesh is quite golden when cooked, with a stronger, more fragrant flavour than Vranja, but sharper. Coxe, the first American pomologist, in 1817, said it was the most esteemed quince and that he had one weighing 23½ ounces. (In antiquity there were two sorts of Portugal - one apple shaped and one pear shaped. The apple shaped one is ‘lost’)







QUINCE VRANJA Very large, pear-shaped, golden fruit, and attractive pale pink blossom. When cooked, the flesh remains pale and breaks down partially. It is slightly less sharp than Portugal, with a full quince flavour. Thought by Bunyard to be possibly the same as Bereczki, named after the Hungarian pomologist, but Roach reports that three arrived together in Britain from the Balkans, including Vranja and Bereczki. A report to us by Victorita Reid, Romanian by birth, is that there is a region of Romania called Vrancea, pronounced 'Vrancha' and the quince 'Vranja' is very similar to those she saw growing there in her youth. Perhaps Vranja originally came from Vrancea in Romania.













MEDLAR - MESPILUS GERMANICA NOTTINGHAM Probably originating in the Caucasus region, the species Medlar grows in S.E.Europe and Asia, and was probably brought to Britain by the Romans, who enjoyed the fruit and dedicated the tree to Saturn. The Medlar can still be found growing wild in south-east Britain. The trees have an attractive crooked habit, and showy white flowers in early summer. These are followed by yellow-brown fruits, which should be ‘bletted’, or allowed to go soft, almost but not quite to the point of decay, before they are eaten or made into jelly. For centuries they were believed to be a valuable herbal cure, and were used to treat kidney stones and digestive disorders. The variety Nottingham was first mentioned in 1777, by Richard Weston, and was first listed by the London firm of Luker and Smith. It has fruit of a more intense flavour. It has been suggested that it is the old species Mespilus Neapolitana, which had been grown for centuries previously, but this argument is tenuous. Medlar trees can grow up to 30ft but are usually much less. Grafted onto Quince rootstocks.



MEDLAR - MESPILUS GERMANICA SENLAC Introduced by us in 2005. We must thank Liz Phillips, of Battle, East Sussex, for discovering this ancient medlar, providing invaluable background information, and for sending the scionwood. She found the tree, long undisturbed and overgrown with larger trees, near an old Roman iron ore pit, very close to Battle Abbey, the Benedictine monastery built on the site where King Harold fell at The Battle of Senlac (Hastings). History records that the abbey had orchards and this region of Sussex is one of very few areas where medlars have ever been found wild in Britain. This is the closest to the Norman site, yet discovered, and is probably a seedling in direct line from the medlars cultivated by the monks. Medlars can live for 3-400 years, so it is possible that this tree is only a few generations away from the Norman conquest. There are only a few distinct strains of medlar and this seems to match some descriptions of the ancient Neapolitan Medlar, not encountered in modern times, though the recorded history of medlar varieties is somewhat confused. It has thorny wood and quite small fruit, with leaves longer, narrower and darker than the larger fruited, cultivated varieties. The flavour is better and stronger than Nottingham but it has much less flesh in proportion to pip. Grafted on Quince rootstocks. *



STONELESS This rare variety was brought to us by horticulturist, teacher and owner of Chiltern Heritage Orchards, Lindsay Engers, who was supplied it by the now closed Read’s Nursery in Norfolk. It now seems to be almost unknown in Britain, but has quite an early history. In 1697 John Worlidge noted “If we could obtain the Medlar without stones mentioned in the French Gardiner, they would be better worth the planting.” Worlidge was referring to John Evelyn’s translation of Nicholas de Bonnefons ‘Le Jardinier François’ of 1651. Switzer, in 1724, seemed to suggest that a stoneless medlar was then known to him in Britain. We should point out that the stones are the large, hard seeds that occupy a large part of the fruit. By 1826, when the London Horticultural Society produced its first collection catalogue, Néflier Sans Noyeau was included, along with synonyms of Mespilus Germanica Abortiva and Néflier Sans Pepins. This was clearly a seedless medlar. In the 1842 edition it was noted with a further synonym of French Medlar. Pliny, in the first century, noted a Gallic Medlar, but there is no evidence to prove they are the same. Hogg and Scott in the 19th century both called the variety (possibly species) ‘Stoneless’. They came out with identical descriptions, though it has never been discovered which copied which. Both gave synonyms of Sans Noyau and Sans Pepins. They said “In shape this resembles the Nottingham, but it rarely exceeds three quarters of an inch in diameter; the eye is smaller and less rent than in the other varieties; it is quite destitute of seeds, and woody core, but the flavour, though good, is inferior to that of the others, being less brisk.” Lindsay Engers has found that the fruit on his tree is not small and is of equal flavour with Nottingham and has sent photos to confirm the former. It seems that this stoneless medlar had been afforded the sub-species name of Mespilus Germanica Apyrena and it might be that this particular stoneless medlar is an improved variety, not familiar to the 19th century. We offer our gratitude to Lindsay for bringing scions, now grafted in 2020.