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  • Jovita Turan

Quince (Cydonia oblonga Mill.) – a Highly Beneficial Ancient Plant

by Jovita Turan, March 10, 2021


Cydonia oblonga Mill. plant commonly known as quince belongs to the genus Cydonia and the Rosaceae family that comes from Asia Minor.


The plant has been cultivated since ancient times in the Mediterranean region and Asia. Today you can find quince trees cultivated mostly in Turkey, Middle East, India, China, Morocco, South Africa, Argentina, United States, and Europe.


The shrub or tree can grow up to 5 - 8 m in height and 4 - 5 m width, its young branches usually covered with pale greyish wool, it has elliptical leaves with white hairs and white or pink flowers. Fruits of quince are big, with hairy skin, pear (C. oblonga sub sp. Polyformis) and/or apple (C. oblonga sub sp. Maliformis) shape, and yellow in color.


Cydonia oblonga by Otto Wilhelm Thomé, 1885

Cydonia oblonga grows under warm temperatures. It is sensitive to cold and excess lime. Quince is resistant to nematodes and woolly aphids however not to fire blight. The harvesting time of the fruits is like most winter pear cultivars (October-November).


CHEMICAL COMPOSITION


Different and important chemical compounds have been isolated and identified from seeds, fruits, leaves, stems, roots, and bark of the plant. In different parts of the quince, essential oils, phenolic compounds, organic acids, tetracyclic sesterterpenes, and ionone glycosides have been recorded.


Quince seeds contain active phytochemicals such as sterols, triterpenes, and tannins as well as different phenolics, organic acids (citric, ascorbic, malic, quinic, shikimic, and fumaric acids), and amino acids.


The fruit contains organic acids (citric, ascorbic, malic, quinic, shikimic, fumaric acids, and oxalic), vitamins (C, B1, B2, B3, A1), minerals (P, Ca, K, Na, N), tannins, and pectin (galacturonic, methoxylation). The phenolic compounds of the fruit were examined by separating the pulp and the peel. In the pulp mainly caffeoylquinic acids (3-, 4-, and 5-O-caffeoylquinic acids and 3,5- dicaffeoylquinic acid), and one quercetin glycoside were identified. The peels contained the same caffeoylquinic acids and several flavonol glycosides (quercetin 3-galactoside, kaempferol 3-glucoside, kaempferol 3-rutinoside), and several unidentified compounds (probably kaempferol glycoside and quercetin and kaempferol glycosides acylated with p-coumaric acid). Examination of volatiles in the fruit showed the presence of esters, acetates, and sesquiterpenes.


In the leaf organic acids (oxalic, citric, malic, quinic, shikimic, and fumaric acids), flavonoids (e.g. rutin), and phenolic compounds (3- O-, 4- O- and 5- O-caffeoylquinic acids, 3,5- O-dicaffeoylquinic acid, quercetin-3- O-galactoside, quercetin-3- Orutinoside, kaempferol-3- O-glycoside, kaempferol-3- O-glucoside, and kaempferol-3- O-rutinoside) have been isolated.


HEALTH BENEFITS


Cydonia oblonga is mainly popular because of its antibacterial, antifungal, antioxidant, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, anti-dysenteric, geno-protective, reno-protective, hepatoprotective, antidiabetic, anti-proliferative, anti-hemolytic, anti-allergic, and cardioprotective properties.

Traditionally the plant is used to treat cardiovascular diseases. It is known to treat diarrhea, vomit, hypertension, and stomachache. Moreover, quince is used in sore throat, cough, pneumonia, intestinal discomfort, lung diseases.


Quince fruits and leaf extract may help to treat and prevent atherosclerosis, smoking, endothelial dysfunction, hypertension, diabetes, and hyperhomocysteinemia. The leaf extract of Quince is widely used to treat allergic rhinitis and asthma.


Mucilage found in the seeds and used as a cream (10-20% concentration) may help in wound healing. The plant has aromatic, astringent, and cooling properties, and acts as a tonic for the heart and brain.


GENERAL USE


The fruits are being eaten raw or cooked, used as a flavoring ingredient or additive in teas. It is being processed into jams, jellies, candies, sweets, puddings, cheese, and/or alcoholic beverages.


Quince fruits by Jovita Turan, 2021

Quince wood is used in the furniture industry. The pant can be used as an alternative to treat industrial water as quince contains PPO enzyme that is used to decolorize industrial wastewater.


CAUTION


Ingesting high amounts of quince seeds may result in toxic effects even though the plant is regarded as safe to consume.


REFERENCES


  • Al-Snafi, A. E. (2016). The medical importance of Cydonia oblonga-A review. IOSR Journal of Pharmacy, 6(6), 87-99.

  • Ashraf, M. U., Muhammad, G., Hussain, M. A., & Bukhari, S. N. (2016). Cydonia oblonga M., A Medicinal plant rich in phytonutrients for pharmaceuticals. Frontiers in pharmacology, 7, 163.

  • Sajid, S. M., Zubair, M., Waqas, M., Nawaz, M., & Ahmad, Z. (2015). A review on quince (Cydonia oblonga): a useful medicinal plant. Global Veterinaria, 14(4), 517-524.

  • Sharma, R., Joshi, V. K., & Rana, J. C. (2011). Nutritional composition and processed products of quince (Cydonia oblonga Mill.).

  • Iliustration of Cydonia oblonga: <a href="https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Illustration_Cydonia_oblonga0.jpg">Otto Wilhelm Thomé</a>, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

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