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The Chinese Fringe Tree

In the west, we use a lot of small flowering quince and most of them are one or another variety of the Japanese flowering quince, Chaenomeles. They have spectacular flowers of many colors, and small, but they are borne on a small flowering shrub and, while there are some larger trunked varieties, they are still relatively small. However, there is a flowering quince which grows much larger and has lovely small flowers, but not as spectacular.

The Chinese quince, pseudocydonia sinensis. Still, it has many other qualities that make up for this. It is a small flower, delicately shaded pink and fragrant. First, it can grow much larger and faster and thus is much more capable of being developed into many styles and sizes: any upright deciduous styles, rafts, clusters, etc. The Chinese quince is related to the Japanese (all members of the rose family), but looks significantly different. Perhaps most obviously different is its bark, which looks like an attractive camouflaged mottling, of an exfoliating green, gray and tan. Furthermore, the bark becomes very muscled; very fluted with age. This is in fact its most outstanding characteristic for bonsai. These flutes become very deep and powerful, surpassing others well known for their muscling, even more so than the hornbeams, and the fluting becomes apparent early
Chinese Quince

The mottled color of the bark


Chinese QuinceShowing the deep

fluting of the trunks

The fluting of the trunk is indicative of the flow of water

and nutrient under the bark and so it also points out where the strong roots are. That allows us to develop a good set
of roots, though rarely the flat buttressed plate of roots that the trident maple has. The wood is quite hard and since the bark itself is fairly thin it sets up an interesting unexpected horticultural aspect of the plant. Since the tree’s wood is hard and its branches are somewhat ascending, we often need to bend them but they are difficult to bend. However, here is one of those trees that are capable of breaking partway without killing the broken part. Of course, we must take care to only break the branch to the degree we wish, and leave some of it intact. Then, by wiring or otherwise temporarily strengthening the area around the break we can use that wire as a temporary cast, to protect it while it heals (being certain to keep air out too, of course.) That won’t take very long, for it heals easily.


Then there are the leaves very
glossy, a very rich dark green, and
dainty and refined in outlook.

Nice through the summer, but dazzling ruby red in the fall.




Chinese Quince
As with all the rose family, they are opposite and therefore
easier to train.
Chinese Quince

Chinese Quince



Opening flower color





The delicately shaded flower

It has large edible yellow fruit, too, good for making preserves, though it is too large for bonsai. The result is that the Japanese tend to cheat and attach only partially matured fruit on their displayed trees. An interesting trick and it works for they continue to do so. There are smaller fruited varieties and, although smaller, still are large.

And it’s hardy too down to at least -10F, well up into Pennsylvania and certainly hardy anywhere in Florida. There is some question about how much heat it will take and how far south it will thrive, but there is no question it will be fine anywhere north of Tampa Bay.

Keep Your Creative Mind Alive,

Clif Pottberg of Bonsai At Pasiminan

Phone (342) 424-6000



18700 Lake Iola Road, Dade City, FL 33523, USA