Colin Mills, compiler of the Hortus Camdenensis, died in late November 2012 after a short illness. As he always considered the Hortus his legacy, it is his family's intention to keep the site running in perpetuity. It will not, however, be updated in the near future.

Chaenomeles speciosa (Sweet) Nak. var. japonica

A vigorous, wide-spreading shrub with tangled, spiny branches and glossy, oval leaves, to 9cm, and clusters of up to 4 scarlet to crimson flowers, to 4.5cm across, in spring, followed by aromatic, yellow-green fruit, to 6cm long.  To 2.5m.  [RHSE, Hortus, Hilliers’]. 

Horticultural & Botanical History

Curtis’s Botanical Magazine figures a plant under the name Pyrus japonica that is is probably Chaenomeles speciosa (Sweet) Nak. var. japonica.  [BM t.692/1803].  Illustration Horticole figures a number of named varieties with flower colours ranging from blush-tinged cream to red-purple.  [IH pl.260/1860].  Flore des Serres also figures a highly ornamental form as Cydonia japonica albo-cincta.  [FS f.1403/1859].  ‘It has often struck us as a singular omission on the part of gardeners that they have not attempted to domesticate the Japan Crab or Pyrus japonica as it is improperly called, the plant being in reality a Quince, or Cydonia.  This most beautiful of all hardy shrubs except the rose is now in precisely the same state as when it first, about the year 1815, arrived from China’.  [Gard. Chron. 1859].  LBC no.1594/1831.  Don also gives the date of 1815 for the introduction of Cydonia japonica

History at Camden Park

Listed only in the 1843 catalogue, with Pyrus japonica rubra appearing in 1845.  They are probably the same plant.  A very early introduction to the gardens.  Edward Macarthur provided seed to the Sydney Botanic Garden in 1823 under the name ‘Cydonia japonica, solitary flowered’.


Macarthur’s plant is not likely to be Chaenomeles japonica (Thunb.) Spach., synonyms Pyrus japonica Thunb., Cydonia japonica Pers., Cydonia maulei T.Moore, commonly known today as ‘Japonica’, ‘Dwarf Japanese quince’, Maule’s quince’, probable origin China.  This is a hardy, spreading, spiny shrub with glossy, oval leaves, to 5cm long, and abundant clusters of orange to red flowers, to 4cm across, in spring, followed by yellow or yellow-flushed red fruit, growing to 1m.  [RHSE, Hilliers’].  It is figured in Curtis’s Botanical Magazine as Pyrus (Cydonia) maulei [BM t.6780/1884].  According to Hillier Chaenomeles japonica Spach., although originally described in 1780 by Thunberg was not introduced to European gardens until 1869 [Hilliers’]. 

Published Feb 05, 2010 - 04:52 PM | Last updated Feb 05, 2010 - 04:58 PM

Figured are ovate leaves and single, deep brick red flowers.  Curtis's Botanical Magazine t.692, 1803.

Chaenomeles speciosa (Sweet) Nak. var. japonica | BM t.692/1803 | BHL

Family Rosaceae
Region of origin


  • Chaenomeles lagenaria Koidzumi
  • Pyrus japonica Hort.
  • Cydonia speciosa Sweet
  • Chaenomeles lagenaria Koidzumi
  • Cydonia lagenaria Loisel.
  • Cydonia japonica Hort. 
Common Name


Name in the Camden Park Record

Pyrus Japonica 

Confidence level medium