In the old Nursery along Arboretum Drive there is a group of Chaenomeles cathayensis (Cathay or Chinese Quince) shrubs in full bloom. This cluster of three shrubs make for a huge display as they are about 15 ft. tall and 20+ ft. across. Covered in these lovely pinkish white flowers right now, they will bear very fragrant pear sized fruits in the autumn.
Known in Chinese as Mu Gua, this plant is native to China, Bhutan, and Burma where the fruits are used in traditional medicine.
These fruits are not commonly used in cooking as their European Quince cousins are. They are quite sour and must be blanched and dried in order to process them for consumption. According to Purdue University’s New Crop Resource, they are valuable for the “high content of organic acids in the juice, distinctive aroma, and high amount of dietary fiber.”