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According to Phipps et al. (1990), the genus Chaenomeles includes four species (all diploids with 2n=34): C. japonica (a dwarf shrub endemic to Japan) and C. cathayensis, C. speciosa, and C. thibetica (all three large shrubs occurring naturally mainly in China). Chaenomeles cathayensis, C. japonica, and C. speciosa have been crossed extensively by plant breeders during the past several hundred years to produce a great diversity of ornamental cultivars. In nature, only C. cathayensis and C. speciosa are known to overlap geographically (in Yunnan Province, China). The typical habitat is open hillsides, rocky slopes, and ravines in thickets and at forest edges. Chaenomeles japonica, at least, is outcrossing and strongly self-incompatible.
Rumpunen (2002) reviewed the potential of Chaenomeles as a new fruit crop for northern Europe.
(Pearce and Thieret 1991; Vaughan and Geissler 1997; Bartish et al. 2000; Garkava et al. 2000 and references therein; Rumpunen (2002); Rumpunen and Bartish 2002)