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Pyracantha coccinea

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Rosaceae (Rose)
Also in this family:
Acute Leaf-lobed Lady's-mantle, Alpine Cinquefoil, Alpine Lady's-mantle, Ampfield Cotoneaster, Arran Service Tree, Arran Whitebeam, Barren Strawberry, Bastard Agrimony, Bastard Service Tree, Bearberry Cotoneaster, Bird Cherry, Blackthorn, Bloody Whitebeam, Bramble, Bristol Whitebeam, Broad-leaved Whitebeam, Broadtooth Lady's-mantle, Bronze Pirri-pirri-bur, Bullace Plum, Bullate Cotoneaster, Burnet Rose, Catacol Whitebeam, Caucasian Lady's-mantle, Cheddar Whitebeam, Cherry Laurel, Cherry Plum, Chinese Photinia, Cloudberry, Clustered Lady's-mantle, Common Agrimony, Common Hawthorn, Common Lady's-mantle, Common Medlar, Common Ninebark, Common Whitebeam, Crab Apple, Creeping Chinese Bramble, Creeping Cinquefoil, Crimean Lady's-mantle, Cultivated Apple, Cultivated Pear, Cut-leaved Blackberry, Damson, Devon Whitebeam, Dewberry, Diel's Cotoneaster, Dog Rose, Doward Whitebeam, Dropwort, Elm-leaved Bramble, English Whitebeam, Entire-leaved Cotoneaster, False Salmonberry, Field Rose, Fodder Burnet, Fragrant Agrimony, Franchet's Cotoneaster, Garden Lady's-mantle, Garden Strawberry, Giant Meadowsweet, Glaucous Dog Rose, Goatsbeard Spiraea, Gough's Rock Whitebeam, Great Burnet, Greengage Plum, Grey-leaved Whitebeam, Hairless Lady's-mantle, Hairy Lady's-mantle, Hautbois Strawberry, Himalayan Blackberry, Himalayan Cotoneaster, Himalayan Whitebeam, Hoary Cinquefoil, Hollyberry Cotoneaster, Hupeh Rowan, Hybrid Cinquefoil, Hybrid Geum, Irish Whitebeam, Japanese Cherry, Japanese Quince, Japanese Rose, Jew's Mallow, Juneberry, Lancaster Whitebeam, Late Cotoneaster, Least Lady's-mantle, Least Whitebeam, Leigh Woods Whitebeam, Ley's Whitebeam, Liljefor's Whitebeam, Littleleaf Cotoneaster, Llangollen Whitebeam, Llanthony Whitebeam, Lleyn Cotoneaster, Loganberry, Many-flowered Rose, Margaret's Whitebeam, Marsh Cinquefoil, Meadowsweet, Midland Hawthorn, Mougeot's Whitebeam, Mountain Ash, Mountain Avens, Mountain Sibbaldia, Moupin's Cotoneaster, No Parking Whitebeam, Ocean Spray, Orange Whitebeam, Pale Bridewort, Pale Lady's-mantle, Parsley Piert, Pirri-pirri-bur, Plymouth Pear, Portuguese Laurel, Purple-flowered Raspberry, Quince, Raspberry, Rock Cinquefoil, Rock Lady's-mantle, Rock Whitebeam, Round-leaved Dog Rose, Round-leaved Whitebeam, Rum Cherry, Russian Cinquefoil, Salad Burnet, Sargent's Rowan, Scannell's Whitebeam, Service Tree, Sharp-toothed Whitebeam, Sherard's Downy Rose, Shining Lady's-mantle, Ship Rock Whitebeam, Short-styled Rose, Shrubby Cinquefoil, Silver Lady's-mantle, Silverweed, Slender Parsley Piert, Slender-spined Bramble, Small-flowered Sweetbriar, Small-leaved Sweetbriar, Soft Downy Rose, Somerset Whitebeam, Sorbaria, Sour Cherry, Southern Downy Rose, Southern Lady's-mantle, Spineless Acaena, Spring Cinquefoil, St. Lucie's Cherry, Steeplebush, Stern's Cotoneaster, Stirton's Whitebeam, Stone Bramble, Sulphur Cinquefoil, Swedish Service Tree, Swedish Whitebeam, Sweet Briar, Symond's Yat Whitebeam, Tengyueh Cotoneaster, Thimbleberry, Thin-leaved Whitebeam, Tibetan Cotoneaster, Tormentil, Trailing Tormentil, Tree Cotoneaster, Trefoil Cinquefoil, Twin-cliffs Whitebeam, Two-spined Acaena, Wall Cotoneaster, Water Avens, Waterer's Cotoneaster, Waxy Lady's-mantle, Welsh Cotoneaster, Welsh Whitebeam, White Burnet, White's Whitebeam, White-stemmed Bramble, Wild Cherry, Wild Pear, Wild Plum, Wild Service Tree, Wild Strawberry, Willmott's Whitebeam, Willow-leaved Bridewort, Willow-leaved Cotoneaster, Wineberry, Wood Avens, Wye Whitebeam, Yellow-flowered Strawberry
Evergreen shrub
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
4 metres tall
Fields, gardens, hedgerows, parks, roadsides, rocky places, scrub, seaside, towns, woodland.

White, 5 petals
The Firethorn bears clusters of small white flowers in late spring to early summer. These flowers, arranged in delicate umbels, add an enchanting touch to the landscape. The blossoms are composed of petite, white petals that collectively form a profusion of blooms, creating a visually striking display against the glossy dark green foliage. The subtle fragrance of the flowers adds to the overall appeal of the Firethorn, attracting pollinators such as bees to the garden. The floral spectacle serves as a precursor to the vibrant berries that follow, transforming the shrub into a picturesque and lively focal point in the outdoor setting.
The Firethorn produces an abundance of vivid red or orange berries, creating a stunning display against its glossy dark green leaves. The berries, resembling miniature jewels, emerge in late summer and persist through autumn and winter, contributing to the shrub's year-round ornamental appeal. These colourful fruits not only add aesthetic value to the landscape but also serve as a valuable food source for wildlife. Birds, in particular, are attracted to the Firethorn for its berry-laden branches, making it a dynamic and ecologically beneficial feature in the garden. While the berries are too bitter for human consumption, their lasting presence ensures the Firethorn remains a striking and functional component of the natural environment.
The Firethorn is adorned with evergreen or semi-evergreen leaves that exhibit a glossy, dark green hue. These leaves are arranged alternately along the branches, forming an elegant backdrop for the shrub's seasonal displays of flowers and berries. The foliage is characterized by its lance-shaped or elliptical leaves, which contribute to the overall lush and vibrant appearance of the plant. In certain varieties, the leaves may undergo a transformation in the autumn, turning shades of red or orange, adding a further dimension to the visual appeal of the Firethorn. The glossy and resilient nature of the leaves enhances the plant's durability, making it a resilient and attractive feature in gardens, hedges, and other landscaped settings.
The Firethorn carries a subtle yet enchanting fragrance when in bloom. The small white flowers, arranged in delicate clusters, emit a delicate scent that wafts through the air during the late spring to early summer blooming period. The fragrance, though not overpowering, adds a pleasing and sensory aspect to the overall appeal of the Firethorn. As the shrub attracts pollinators, including bees, the gentle scent becomes a part of the natural symphony in the garden. This understated aromatic quality contributes to the overall charm of the Firethorn, making it not only visually captivating but also a delightful olfactory experience in outdoor spaces.
Other Names:
Pyracantha, Red Firethorn, Scarlet Firethorn.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Other Information


Pyracantha coccinea, also known as Scarlet Firethorn or red firethorn, is a species of flowering shrub in the family Rosaceae. It is native to Europe, northwest Africa, and western Asia, but it is now widely cultivated in many parts of the world.

Pyracantha coccinea is an evergreen shrub that can grow to about 10-13 feet tall, with a similar spread. The leaves are glossy, dark green and oval in shape, about 1-2 inches long. The flowers are small, white, and fragrant, and appear in clusters in late spring. The most striking feature of this shrub are the bright red berries, which are highly ornamental and persist on the branches well into winter.

Pyracantha coccinea is a popular ornamental shrub, grown for its attractive foliage, flowers, and berries. It can be used as a hedge, screen, or espalier and is a great choice for wildlife gardening as the berries are a food source for birds and other small mammals. Its thorny branches also make it a good barrier to deter pedestrians and animals.

This plant is quite adaptable and can grow in various soil types and in full sun or partial shade. It is also quite drought tolerant once established. Pruning is required to control its size and shape, and can be done in late winter or early spring. This plant is generally pest and disease free, however, fire blight, root rot and scab might attack it under certain conditions.


Firethorn, also known as Pyracantha coccinea, is a versatile and hardy evergreen shrub native to southeastern Europe and western Asia. It is popular among gardeners and landscapers for its stunning display of brightly colored berries that can last throughout the winter, making it an excellent choice for adding year-round interest to a garden.

Appearance and Growth Habit

Firethorn is a dense, bushy shrub that can reach heights of up to 13 feet (4 meters) and a width of up to 10 feet (3 meters). Its small, glossy, oval-shaped leaves are typically dark green, though some cultivars feature variegated leaves with white or yellow margins. In spring, clusters of small white flowers appear, attracting bees and other pollinators. The flowers give way to showy clusters of round, pea-sized berries that ripen in the fall, ranging in color from bright red to yellow or orange. The berries are not only attractive to the eye but also provide an excellent source of food for birds and other wildlife.

Firethorn is a relatively fast-growing plant, and if left unchecked, it can become invasive. Regular pruning and shaping are essential to keep it under control, and this can also promote a bushier growth habit, which, in turn, encourages the plant to produce more flowers and berries.

Cultivation and Maintenance

Firethorn is a relatively low-maintenance shrub that is easy to grow in most types of soil, as long as it is well-draining. It prefers full sun to partial shade and can tolerate a range of temperatures, making it suitable for a wide range of climates. Once established, it is quite drought-tolerant, but regular watering during the first few growing seasons is essential for its successful establishment.

Pruning and shaping

Firethorn is best done in late winter or early spring, before new growth appears. This is also an excellent time to remove any damaged or diseased branches, as well as any crossing or rubbing stems. Firethorn can be trained as a free-standing shrub or trained against a wall or trellis to form an espalier.

Uses in Landscaping

Firethorn is a versatile shrub that can be used in a variety of landscaping situations. Its dense growth habit makes it an excellent choice for hedging or as a screening plant, while its attractive berries make it a popular choice for borders, mass plantings, and specimen planting. The plant's thorny branches also make it an excellent choice for creating a barrier or deterrent, particularly in areas prone to vandalism or break-ins.

Firethorn is also well-suited to urban planting, as it is tolerant of pollution and salt spray, making it an excellent choice for coastal gardens. Additionally, its evergreen foliage and year-round interest make it an excellent choice for gardeners who want to add color and texture to their gardens, even during the winter months.

More Information on Firethorn

While Firethorn is generally a low-maintenance plant, it can sometimes be susceptible to certain pests and diseases. One of the most common diseases affecting Firethorn is fire blight, which can cause wilting, dieback, and cankers on the branches. To prevent this disease, it is important to avoid overhead watering, prune out any diseased branches, and make sure to sterilize pruning tools between uses.

Another potential issue with Firethorn is its thorny branches, which can make it difficult to prune and shape. It is important to wear thick gloves and protective clothing when working with Firethorn to avoid injury from the thorns.

Despite these challenges, Firethorn is a popular choice among gardeners and landscapers due to its many attractive features. In addition to its colorful berries, Firethorn also has a lovely shape and texture, with its dense foliage and thorny branches adding interest and complexity to any garden or landscape. Whether used as a standalone specimen plant or as part of a mixed planting, Firethorn is sure to add beauty and interest to any outdoor space.

Firethorn is also a great plant for wildlife gardens as the berries provide a valuable source of food for birds and other wildlife, especially in winter when other sources of food are scarce. Planting Firethorn can help attract a variety of bird species to your garden, including robins, bluebirds, and thrushes.

In addition to its ornamental and ecological benefits, Firethorn has also been used for various medicinal purposes in traditional herbal medicine. For example, the plant has been used to treat skin conditions, such as burns and cuts, as well as to alleviate symptoms of respiratory and digestive issues. However, it is important to note that there is limited scientific research to support these uses, and anyone interested in using Firethorn for medicinal purposes should consult with a healthcare provider before doing so.

Firethorn is a popular plant for Christmas decorations due to its attractive berries, which make it a perfect choice for wreaths, centerpieces, and other holiday decor. However, it is important to use caution when bringing Firethorn inside, as the thorns can be quite sharp and the berries can be toxic if ingested.

Firethorn is also easy to grow, making it a great choice for beginner gardeners or those who are looking for a low-maintenance plant. It is adaptable to a range of soil types and can tolerate a variety of growing conditions, including full sun or partial shade. It is also fairly drought-tolerant once established, though it will benefit from regular watering during periods of extended dryness.

When it comes to pruning Firethorn, it is best to do so in the late winter or early spring, before new growth begins. This will help promote a healthy, bushy growth habit and encourage the development of more flowers and berries. Firethorn can be pruned quite heavily, but it is important to leave some growth on each branch to ensure the plant's health and vitality.

In terms of propagation, Firethorn can be grown from seed, but it is often easier and more reliable to propagate through cuttings. To do so, take a cutting from a healthy branch in the early summer, remove the lower leaves, and dip the end in rooting hormone. Plant the cutting in a well-draining potting mix and keep it moist until roots have developed.

In some cultures, Firethorn has cultural significance and has been used in traditional celebrations and festivals. For example, in some parts of Europe, Firethorn is used as a Christmas decoration, while in China it is used to symbolize good luck and prosperity. The plant has also been used in traditional herbal medicine in some cultures to treat a variety of ailments.

It's important to note that while Firethorn has many benefits, it also has some drawbacks. The berries of the plant are toxic if ingested, and the thorns can be quite sharp and can cause injury if not handled carefully. It's important to wear gloves and protective clothing when handling Firethorn and to keep it out of reach of children and pets.

One interesting fact about Firethorn is that it is related to the apple and pear trees, and its fruit is actually a type of pome. The small, round berries are technically called pomes and are similar in structure to the fruit of apple and pear trees. The berries are typically bright red or orange, but some varieties may also produce yellow or white berries.

Firethorn is also a great plant for attracting pollinators to your garden. The plant produces small, white flowers in the spring that are highly attractive to bees, butterflies, and other pollinators. These flowers provide an important source of nectar and pollen for these insects, which in turn helps to support healthy ecosystems and promote biodiversity.

In terms of landscape design, Firethorn can be used in a variety of ways to add interest and beauty to your outdoor space. It is often used as a hedge or border plant, as its thorny branches make it an effective barrier against intruders. It can also be used as a standalone specimen plant or incorporated into a mixed planting for added color and texture.

Overall, Firethorn is an excellent choice for anyone looking to add beauty, interest, and ecological value to their garden or landscape. With its attractive berries, hardy growth habit, and adaptability to a range of growing conditions, it is a plant that is sure to provide years of enjoyment and beauty.

30 Fabulous Firethorn Facts

  1. Scientific Name: Pyracantha coccinea, commonly known as Firethorn.
  2. Family: Rosaceae.
  3. Origin: Native to Southeastern Europe and the Mediterranean region.
  4. Size: Can grow as a large shrub or small tree, reaching up to 6 meters (20 feet) in height.
  5. Leaves: Evergreen or semi-evergreen, glossy dark green leaves.
  6. Flowers: Clusters of small white flowers bloom in late spring to early summer.
  7. Berries: Bright red or orange berries follow the flowers, persisting into winter.
  8. Thorns: Sharp thorns cover the branches, providing a natural deterrent against animals.
  9. Habitat: Thrives in various soil types and is commonly found in gardens, along walls, or as a hedge plant.
  10. Hardiness Zones: Typically grows well in USDA hardiness zones 6 to 9.
  11. Versatility: Often used for its ornamental value, as a hedging plant, or as a privacy screen.
  12. Wildlife Attraction: The berries attract birds, making it a valuable plant for wildlife.
  13. Sunlight Requirements: Prefers full sun to partial shade for optimal growth.
  14. Drought Tolerance: Firethorn is drought-tolerant once established.
  15. Pruning: Responds well to pruning and can be shaped into various forms.
  16. Fire Resistance: The name "Firethorn" is derived from its resistance to fire.
  17. Cultural Significance: Has symbolic meanings in various cultures, often associated with protection.
  18. Fruit Uses: Berries are not typically consumed by humans due to their bitterness but can be used to make jams and jellies.
  19. Pest Resistance: Generally resistant to many pests and diseases.
  20. Seasonal Interest: Provides interest in multiple seasons with its flowers, berries, and foliage.
  21. Soil pH: Tolerant of a wide range of soil pH levels.
  22. Landscape Design: Used in landscaping for its aesthetic appeal and ability to create barriers.
  23. Propagation: Can be propagated from seeds, cuttings, or by layering.
  24. Folklore: Associated with various folk beliefs and traditions in different regions.
  25. Medicinal Uses: In some traditional medicine practices, extracts from Firethorn have been used for certain ailments.
  26. Leaf Arrangement: Leaves are arranged alternately along the branches.
  27. Fall Color: In some varieties, the foliage may turn red or orange in the fall.
  28. Growth Rate: Generally has a moderate growth rate.
  29. Urban Tolerance: Tolerates urban pollution and is suitable for city landscapes.
  30. Climbing Variety: Some cultivars exhibit a climbing or trailing growth habit.


Firethorn filmed at Bolton-le-Sands in Lancashire featuring the Lancaster Canal on the 3rd September 2023.


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Distribution Map

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