Quince pear Cydonia oblonga

The name of this fruit comes from the Kydon city, which is situated on Creta Island. This is that historical place where old Greeks discovered a bigger variety of the Quince already in the Ancient times. Greeks called the fruit 'Kydomalon' or 'Apple of Kydom'. The species name 'oblonga' means oblong and that is reference to the shape of the fruit.

The Golden Apples on the relieves of the Zeus Shrine at Olympia (450 before Christ) look alike the Quince pear. It is fact that Greeks knew this tree already in the seventh century before our era, but probably history of the Quince starts much earlier before that. Probably it was cultivated much longer, originally it comes from Persia and Anatolia and maybe also from Greece and Crimea. Later on this tree was repeatedly cultivated in the East and in the first place in Palestine. Many commentators consider that the apple named in the Song of Solomon (2:3), and which in Hebrew is ‘tappuach’, might be the Quince pear: ‘As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons. I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste. For a long time these fruits, which were more attractive because of their smell, than their nutrition value, were sacrificed to the Greek Gods. As well by Greeks as by Romans the Quince was sacred to Aphrodite / Venus. These two Goddesses very often are pictured with the Quince pear in their right hand. Also the apple which Eris, the Goddess of the discord, threw between Goddesses together with the text ‘for the most beautiful’ on it, could eventually be the same Quince pear. 

Between people giving the Quince pear as present was understood as a sign of Love; under Solon law in the sixth century before Christ this plant was ordered to play a special role in wedding ceremony, a young Greek bride had to eat up the Quince on the doorstep, and the amount of seeds meant the amount of children, which this couple will have in life. This usage and meaning of the fruit passed to the later times, during the Middle Ages Quince pears were served during weddings. Plinius talked very broadly about the virtue of the Quince, including the belief that this fruit was capable of keeping away the bad eye. In the pictures and mosaics in Pompey one will see that Quince is very often shown in the grip of the bear. One famous Byzantine doctor from the eleventh century glorified the working of this pear against drunkenness. He advised people to eat Quince when drinking wine, ‘so that vapor of wine didn’t reach the head’.

In the old English literature the fruit has name 'Coyne', just like in the English translation of the 'Roman de la Rose' and in the English vocabulary of the 14th and 15th century, the name derived from the French 'coin'. This fruit was probably introduced in England in the 13th century and was very much cultivated in the 16th and 18th centuries. Century later soft fruits became more popular. Nostradamus, the famous oracle, astrologer and doctor of the 16th century, from the Provence, sworn on the Quince jelly to be a perfect means to heal potency problems by men and frigidity problems by women. He saw such type of disorders as result of bad blood circulation in the abdomen part of the human body. According to him Quince could help to solve the problem in such case. Since Hippocrates till the 17th century, Quince was recognized as one of the most useful fruits that men knew. And its healing powers guaranteed this fruit to have the place of honor in the old medicine. For a long time men thought that Quince could be used as a means against poison. Nowadays this fruit is also very much cultivate din South America, especially in Argentina.