I had always avoided looking into using Chaenomeles (flowering quince - not true quince) as rootstock for other related fruits due to their natural multi-trunk suckering habit which would be a management nightmare if you wanted them to only provide the roots. However, recently I looked into it and there has actually been a good bit of study on this with multiple other species being found to graft successfully (at least onto C. japonica, but C. speciosa and C. cathayensis do not appear to have been tested). I recall some varieties of pears, apples and true quince (Cydonia) were successful in grafting.
So why do this? Yes, C. japonica could serve to provide dwarfing traits, but due to suckering it wouldn’t be worth it. However, the mad scientist in me realizes this is a prime opportunity to play around with graft chimeras. Chaenomeles readily roots along buried sections of stem, and mature roots readily sucker if damaged. The challenge with intentionally creating graft chimeras in general is that it can be hard to get a bud to emerge from the area of intermingled tissue at the graft union. I believe that since we could easily get roots to push from the tissue at the graft union of a Chaenomeles based graft those roots could be allowed to thicken a couple years and then be wounded to induce suckers directly off the roots. It is highly likely that at least a portion of said roots originating from the graft union would contain chimeric tissue from both plants.
I’m going to attempt grafting Malus to C. speciosa (probably within the next week or two). Is anyone else feeling like making some crazy graft attempts to participate in an experiment to create graft chimeras? If so please post here with what you will be attempting and lets update later with any results (or lack thereof).
I don’t expect that Chaenomeles would improve apple fruit in any way, but with Chimeras the fruit sometimes ends up being made from tissue of only one of the parents. The result could be a small shrubby plant that is highly ornamental and produces apples, or perhaps maybe it would produce Chaenomeles fruit on an upright tree type plant that looks like an apple tree. Of course the fruit could also end up being composed of tissue from both parents. That could make for a hard fruit that needs to be cooked like Chaenomeles, but with more complex flavor.
This sort of thing could be quite interesting and for me at least it’s less about trying to produce a specific result and more about feeding my curiosity. What if it ended up making a Chaenomeles type plant, but with less suckering? That could end up making great apple rootstock since Chaenomeles can grow in super wet soil (I have them here with visible water flowing past their roots for months out of the year).
Thorns can be avoided too. Thornlessness is apparently recessive in Chaenomeles, and thornless cultivars (as well as reduced thorn cultivars) exist.
Graft chimeras are usually referenced with a “+” rather than an “x” in front of their botanical name to indicate they resulting from adding two different species together rather than crossing the species.
I found lots of references to graft chimeras on Google so maybe it’s the search engine you’re using that’s making it hard to find info? For more research level info I’d search "graft chimera* into Google Scholar rather than regular Google. Just don’t look for info regarding Chaenomeles specific graft chimeras as that particular type doesn’t seem to have been attempted yet.
Good luck, should be interesting. I’d start with a flowering quince like Oikos Nursery’s ‘Lemony’ that is already a useful fruit. Some improved cultivar’s exist in Moldova and Ukraine if you could get them. If the fruit wasn’t a fusion you might get a new rootstock to try cydonia, pyrus, malus etc.
This year I have some extra Chaenomeles speciosa ‘Victory’, a repeat blooming selection that produces larger than average fruits (for the species). Therefore that’s what I’ll be using, but I have lots of Chaenomeles in my collection (named varieties of various species as well as hybrid seedlings) so I may try other variations in the future if I at least get some grafting success this year.
Not so much to attempt chimera, but I think I’m ging to end up with some small bits of assorted rosaceae scionwood left over and I have tons of the dreaded Rosa multiflora popping up all over the place. As I don’t seem to be able to run out of it and can’t find any results of attempts online, I figure I might as well do some grafting experiemts to see what sticks and what doesn’t or even what supports growth for a couple years as a means of nursing scion along outside of the crisper. I expect the results will be mostly fancy compost.
@JohannsGarden Great point on Google Scholar, I’ll be sure to look there, but I suppose I’ll clarify: I’m wondering if there’s any material that’s a little more approachable to someone without a botany/biology background, and/or writing on how exactly to achieve a chimera in this situation? Do I graft it, attempt to get roots at the union, and then cut both ends off and allow the rooted graft union to grow? This is a totally new concept to me.
Historically most graft chimeras arose spontaneously from graft unions. In controlled instances of trying to force the generation of graft chimeras it typically is the norm to cut back the scion at some point to force suckering. In a small percentage of attempts there will be buds emerging from the actual graft line where the tissue are mingled. It doesn’t work every time, but I think Chaenomeles ability to quickly and easily generate buds on root tissue makes it a prime candidate to work with because even if shoots don’t emerge from the graft line it should at least push roots there (if graft is buried) which can later be forced to sucker through wounding.
@JohannsGarden Okay, I think I understand now how I can give this a shot. I’ll see if I can get some apple grafted onto flowering quince this year and go from there. Thanks for explaining, and please keep us posted on your project!
Here’s a wiki link to the subfamily Rosoideae which shows the most closely related genera within the otherwise broader Rosaceae family. Most of the common fruit tree species don’t appear to fall within this subfamily, but Rubus and Fragaria do. It looks like a majority of the closely related genera tend to be less woody so that may be why there isn’t much info about using Rosa for intergeneric grafting.
No, I do mean an apple/rose hybrid. I believe it was by Burbank, I don’t remember. It was never released but was more of an experiment testing genetic affinities. He did many of those, trying fig to mulberry, etc.
He even had an unreleased sweet cherry (avium) and plum hybrid that was probably the first known. A reporter that got to taste it thought it was more sensational than the plumcots.