Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

of which are intensely bitter, and are sometimes used by the Chilians to cure intermittent fevers.

6. Margyricarpus, one species of which, (M. setosus,) is a native of arid hills in Brazil, with white, pearl-like fruit, resembling that of the mistletoe, but different from it, in having a grateful acid taste.

7. Cercocarpus, a genus coniprising the C. fothergillöides, a tree native of Mexico, with elliptic, coriaceous, glabrous leaves, and conspicuous flowers and fruit.

Cydonia vulgaris,
THE COMMON QUINCE-TREE.

Synonymes.

Pyrus cydonia,

LINNÆUS, Species Plantarum.

De CANDOLLE, Prodromus.
Cydonia vulgaris,

Don, Miller's Dictionary.

Loudon, Arboretum Britannicum.
Coignassier, Coigner, Coignier, Coudounier, France.
Quittenbaum,

GERMANY.
Cologno, Melo cotogno, Pero cotogno, ITALY.
Membrillo, Membrillero,

SPAIN.
Marmeleiro,

PORTUGAL.
Armud,

Russia.
Quince-tree, Quince Bush,

BRITAIN AND ANGLO-AMERICA.

Engravings. Lindley, Pomologia Britannica ; Loudon, Arboretum Britannicum, vi., pl. 188; and the figures below. Specific Characters. Leaves ovate, obtuse at the base, entire, tomentose beneath. Calyx tomentose; its lobes serrulated, and a little leafy. Stamens in one row.—De Candolle, Prodromus.

[graphic]

Description.

HE Common Quince is a

low tree, seldom exceed-
ing fifteen or twenty feet

in height, with a crooked stem, and tortuous, rambling branches. The bark is smooth and brown, approaching to black. The leaves are roundish or ovate; dusky-green above, and whitish underneath. The flowers, which put forth in England by the middle of April, and in the middle and northern parts of the United States, in May and June, are large, with the petals pale-red or white, and the sepals of the same length as the petals. The flowers are succeeded by large fruit of a globular, oblong, or pear-shaped form, of a rich yellow or orange-colour, when ripe, of an austere taste, and emitting a peculiar and rather pleasant smell.

Varieties. In nursery catalogues, and also in botanical works generally, there are designated five or more varieties of this species; but Mr. Thompson of the London Horticultural Society's garden, has judiciously remarked that there are, in reality, only the three following :

1. C. y. PYRIFORMIS. Pear-shaped Quince; Coignassier pyriforme, of the French, which may be considered as the normal form of the species. For ornamental purposes, this variety, and the apple-shaped quince, are much to be preferred to the Portugal quince.

2. C. V. MALIFORMIS. Apple-shaped Quince; Coignassier à fruit pomiforme, Coignassier mâle, of the French. This variety requires to be continued by extension; because it is found that seedling plants of both this and the preceding variety are not quite true to their kinds. They most frequently produce pearshaped fruit.

3. C. V. LUSITANICA. Lusitanian or Portugal Quince; Coignassier de Portugal, of the French. This variety has broader leaves, and larger fruit, than the two preceding, and being of a more vigorous growth, it is better adapted for stocks to graft upon. It is not so good a bearer as either of the other two varieties; and the fruit is not of so deep an orange; but it is considered the best for marmalade, as its pulp turns to a fine purple or crimson, when stewed or baked, and becomes much softer, and less austere.

Geography and History. The quince is supposed to have been originally a native of Sidon, a city of ancient Crete, now the island of Candia; but it is much more probable that it was only first brought into notice in that city. It is considered, at present, as indigenous to the south of France, particularly on the borders of the Garonne, and to Germany, on the banks of the Danube. By

some, the tree is thought to be indigenous to Britain; and Phillips states, in his "Pomarium Britannicum,” that quinces grow in such abundance in some parts of the Wealds of Sussex, as to enable private families to make quince wine in quantities of from one hundred to two hundred gallons in a season.”'

The quince was known to the Greeks and Romans, and both nations held it in high estimation. Columella says, “Quinces not only yield pleasure, but health." He speaks of three kinds—the "Struthian,” the "Must Quince," and the "Orange Quince.” Pliny mentions many kinds, some growing wild in Italy, and others in cultivation, so large that they weighed the boughs, on which they grew, down to the ground.' He also says that some were of a green, and others of a golden colour, the latter of which were called chrysomela. The only kind that was eaten raw, he states to have been raised by grafting the large quince upon the stock of a small variety, called struthla. "All kinds of this fruit," continues he, "are grown in boxes, and placed within the waiting-chambers of our great personages, in which men wait to salute these personages as they come forth, every morning.” It appears from the same author, that quinces were used to decorate the images of the gods, which were placed, in sleeping-chambers, round the beds; whence it follows, that the Romans did not think that there was anything either injurious or unpleasant in their smell. He gives directions for preserving the fruit, by excluding the air from them, or boiling them in honey; or, by plunging them in boiling honey, a practice in use with this, and other fruits, in Genoa, at the present day. He also writes much on the medicinal qualities of this fruit. “Quinces,” says he, “ when eaten raw, if quite ripe, are good for those who spit blood, or are troubled with hemorrhage." The juice of raw quinces, he states to be a sovereign remedy for the swollen spleen, the dropsy, and difficulty of taking breath, particularly to those who cannot conveniently breathe, except when in an upright position. The flowers of the quince, either fresh or dried, he tells us, are good for inflamed eyes. The root of the tree was used, not only as a medicine, but as a charm against scrofula.

The date of the introduction of the quince into Britain is unknown. Gerard mentions it as growing in gardens and orchards, and as being planted oftentimes in hedges and fences belonging to gardens and vineyards;" from which we may infer, that it was by no means rare in his time; and, indeed, in all probability, it has existed in England from the time of the Romans.

The largest recorded tree of this species in Britain, is in Radnorshire, at Maeslough Castle, which is twenty-one feet in height, with a trunk ten inches in diameter, and an ambitus or spread of branches of twenty-two feet.

The quince, like most of our orchard fruits, was probably introduced into the North American colonies at the early periods of their settlements. It is very generally cultivated for its fruit, and is usually planted in clumps of bushes, rather than as individual trees or shrubs. Of late, however, orchards of it have been formed on the rich loamy spots of Long Island, and other parts of the country, and doubtless, in time, their owners will derive a handsome profit.

Mythological and Legendary Allusions. The quince was considered by the ancients, to be the emblem of love, happiness, and fruitfulness. It was dedicated to Venus, and the temples of that goddess at Cyprus and Paphos were decorated with it. The nuptial chambers of the Greeks and Romans were adorned with the fruit; and the bride and bridegroom also ate of it as soon as the marriage ceremony was performed. The learned Goropius maintains that quinces were the

golden apples of the Hesperides," and not oranges, as some commentators have supposed. In support of his argument, he says that it was a fruit much revered by the ancients; and he assures us, that there has been discovered at Rome, a statue of Hercules, that held in its hand three quinces. “This,” he says,

agrees with the fable which states, that Hercules stole the golden apples from the gardens of the Hesperides.” The Farnese Hercules, however, has apples in his hand, but not quinces. It has also been alleged, that the golden fruit thrown by Hippomenes to Atalanta were quinces, and that the fruit of the “forbidden tree," which the Jewish traditions describe as "golden," was the quince.

Soil and Situation. The quince prefers a moist but free soil, near water, and a situation rather open, but sheltered. In dry soils, neither the tree nor the fruit will attain a large size; and in situations exposed to high winds, the fruit is liable to fall before mature. The finest specimens of quince-trees, in Britain, are said to be found in old orchards adjoining ponds; it being customary, formerly, to plant a quince-tree in every apple orchard. If the soil be too dry or meagre, an artificial one may be prepared, as recommended for the Gordonia lasianthus; or, a hole may be excavated for each tree to a depth of ten or twelve feet, and then filling it with loose stones to within two or three feet of the surface, and the remainder with rich loamy earth or mould. Such a preparation is well worthy of the expense in every garden where this tree will not otherwise grow.

Propagation and Culture. The quince may be as readily propagated from seeds as the apple and pear; but the quickest mode of raising plants is by layers. It will also grow by cuttings, planted in autumn in a moist, sandy soil. The trees, when planted as standards, should be situated about ten feet apart, and once set out, require but little attention, beyond that of removing the suckers from the roots, and the side-shoots from the main stems. To have the fruit of a large size, the head of the tree should be kept open by thinning out the shoots; and the fruit ought also to be thinned out, leaving no more on the tree than it can well mature. The tree is of moderately rapid growth, when young, acquiring, in four or five years, a height of six or eight feet; and in ten or twelve years, it attains an elevation of fifteen feet, after which, it continues to increase chiefly in the width of its head.

Insects. The greatest enemy to the quince-tree is the borer or larva of the Saperda bivittata, described in our article on the common apple-tree. It perforates the stems, in a similar manner as it does the trunks of the apple, the hawthorn, the June berry, and the mountain ash, and may be destroyed by the same modes recommended for the apple-tree.

Properties and Uses. The wood of the quince, when found of sufficient dimensions, is applied to the purposes of turnery; but from its small size, this tree is almost entirely cultivated for its fruit, or as stocks on which to graft the mountain ash, and the pear. In France, however, this tree is sometimes grown for hedges. The fruit is seldom eaten by itself, but is generally preserved in syrup, or is made into marmalade, or mixed with apples in tarts. In France, it is manufactured into “marmelades," "pâtes,” and “gelées," known by the general name of cotignac; and a very agreeable liquor is extracted from it, called eau de coings. According to Gerard, quinces are hurtful to the head, by reason of their strong smell; and, when eaten from the tree, they have "a kind of choking taste.' Medicinally, they are considered as cooling, astringent, and stomachic. The expressed juice of this fruit, taken in small quantities, is of service in nausea, vomiting, &c.; and a syrup made of the juice may be taken to strengthen the stomach. Quince wine is made with sugar and water, in a similar manner as other fruit wines. The fruit should first be deprived of their cores, (as the seeds impart an unpleasant flavour to the wine,) then mashed or ground to a pulp, and mixed in equal proportions, by measure, with water. After standing from twenty-four to thirty-six hours, separate the juice from the pulp by straining; add to each gallon of the liquid three pounds and a quarter of muscovado sugar, and put it up in air-tight casks, and let it remain until the March or April following. Then, rack it off'; cleanse the cask of sediment; put back the liquor again; and a year after bottle it up. It will be greatly improved by age, and is much esteemed by asthmatic persons. The rind of the quince imparts to wool a yellowish-brown; and, when mixed with the salts of iron, it gives a blackishgreen. A mucilage prepared from the seeds of this fruit was formerly much in use, but is now supplanted by the simple gums.

Independently altogether of its value as a fruit-tree, or of the young plants for stocks, the quince richly deserves a place in ornamental plantations, on account of the velvety surface of its leaves, its fine, large, pale-pink flowers, and, above all, its splendid golden fruit, which, when ripe on the tree, reminds us of the orange groves of Italy and of the torrid zone, and may very well justify the conjecture that it was the true “golden apple” of the Hesperides.

« AnteriorContinuar »