This post is also available in: Español (Spanish)
Membrillo is spanish for quince, but the fruit is unrelated to this small to medium-sized tropical forest understory tree which can reach 30 feet in height. Nonetheless, it is high branching and the top branches resemble the growth of a palm tree. Although it can also assume a shrub growth form.
Additionally, leaves are green, simple, alternate, oblong, large, 20 x 5 inches and grouped at the branch ends in whorls. Also, flowers are large, fragrant, variably-colored blooms (white, pink, purple) with stamens arranged in a circle, about 4 inches across and borne on the trunk (cauliflory); and they attract bees such that membrillo is known as a honey tree. Fruits are pear-shaped, about 4 x 3 inches; the hard green shell contains a yellowish-orange pulp and up to 20 seeds; at maturity the fruit is yellow. Monkeys and rodents eat the fruits. Seeds and cutting are used for propagation. Fruit pulp is edible, usually boiled beforehand, and is rich in vitamins. The large leaves are eaten by animals and used to to make a medicinal tea. The wood is used in construction.
Membrillo prefers well-drained soils with organic matter. With its large shiny leaves and unusual flowers and fruits, membrillo is suggested as a shade, accent or specimen tree in courtyards and gardens, in the conservatory or grown in a pot.