Chaenomeles japonica var. alpina 'Pygmaeus'

Common Name: Japanese quince 
Type: Deciduous shrub
Family: Rosaceae
Zone: 5 to 9
Height: 0.50 to 1.00 feet
Spread: 0.50 to 2.50 feet
Bloom Time: April
Bloom Description: Orange-red
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Ground Cover
Flower: Showy
Fruit: Showy
Tolerate: Drought, Erosion, Clay Soil


Easily grown in average, medium, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. Best flowering occurs in full sun. Adapts to a wide range of soil conditions, but prefers well-drained loams. Occasional renewal pruning in spring after flowering will improve the bloom for the following year.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Chaenomeles japonica var. alpina is a dwarf, deciduous shrub which typically grows to only 1' tall and features a network of interlaced, thorny stems. Abundant orange-red flowers bloom in spring before the foliage. Tiny, rounded leaves (to 3/4" long) emerge after the flowers and are slightly brownish as they open but mature into a glossy dark green. Small, pleasantly scented, apple-like, greenish yellow fruit (quinces) ripen in fall, and, although quite bitter and unappetizing when fresh, may be used in jellies and preserves.

Genus name comes from the Greek words chaino meaning to gape and melon meaning an apple in the incorrect belief that the fruits split open.

Specific epithet means Japanese.

'Pygmaeus' is a further dwarfed cultivar which typically grows 6-12" tall and spreads to 30" wide. Orange-red flowers in spring before the foliage are followed by small fruit. Tiny, rounded glossy green leaves.


No serious insect or disease problems. Flowering quince may develop fungal diseases in hot weather resulting in early defoliation. In severe winters, the flower buds may be killed. Due to the denseness of the branches, this shrub may collect windblown trash that is difficult to remove.


Interesting ground cover. Rock gardens, foundation plantings. Containers.