Quince

(Cydonia vulgaris) As a symbol of happiness and fertility it was dedicated to Venus (Fluckiger & Hanbury), who is often represented holding one in her right hand (Ellacombe). Sending quinces as presents, or eating them together, were recognized love tokens; so was throwing them at each other. Dreaming of them was reckoned to be a sign of successful love, or it could be interpreted as speedy release from troubles and sickness (Gordon. 1985). In 17th century England, it was reckoned that "the woman with child that eateth many during the time of her breeding shall bring forth wise children and of good understanding" (quoted by Boland. 1977). Perhaps all this is why they were claimed to be the Golden Apples of the Hesperides.

Quince, in one form or another, was a favourite medieval stomachic, the "confection of quinces" being recommended against sea-sickness, for example (Withington). An Alabama folk remedy for stopping the hiccups was simply to take a tablespoon-ful of quince juice (R B Browne). A decoction of the pips is still sometimes used as an application in skin complaints, like chilblains, chapped skin, and burns (Schauenberg & Paris), and for eye inflammations. Indeed, it is sometimes added to more usual eye lotions. Quince-seed lotion, made by stewing the seeds in water, was used as a hair lotion, "for giving ladies' hair a fine wavy appearance (Savage), and quince-seed tea is an American country cure for diarrhoea (H M Hyatt). There was a medieval notion that quinces prevented drunkenness. The Hortus Sanitatis noted that it could be achieved by taking "syrup of quinces at the second course after wine" (Seager).

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