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PYRACANTHA coccinea

Image of Pyracantha coccinea

James Burghardt

Family

Rosaceae

Botanical Name

PYRACANTHA coccinea

Plant Common Name

Scarlet Firethorn

General Description

The showy, colorful fall fruits of scarlet firethorn can’t be beat. This thorny, evergreen shrub is native to southeastern Europe, Turkey and the Caucasus region. It can become quite large and can develop a broad rounded, upright or spreading habit at maturity.

The evergreen to semi-evergreen leaves of firethorn are small, glossy, dark green and turn shades of bronze, dark green and brown in fall and winter. In spring, it bears clusters of white, musty smelling flowers that are attractive to bees. The green fruits that follow resemble miniature apples and turn shades of vibrant scarlet or orange late in the season. These persist into winter until they are eaten by birds.

Scarlet firethorn prefers full sun for best habit, flowering and fruiting. It is adaptable to a wide range of well-drained soils and can be moderately drought tolerant once established. Pruning should be done in late winter to early spring but sparingly—unless plants are trained as espalier or bonsai specimens. It is versatile, low-maintenance and can be planted as informal hedging, in shrub borders or trained as an espalier, bonsai specimen or trained as a small tree.

Cultivars vary in their size, habit and fruit color, size and cluster density. Disease resistance is also important. These shrubs are typically susceptible to a wide array of rosaceous diseases, such as blight and scab.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    9 - 6

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    5 - 9

  • Sunset Zone

    3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Shrub

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Height

    5'-20' / 1.5m - 6.1m (15)

  • Width

    3'-6' / 0.9m - 1.8m (6)

  • Bloom Time

    Spring, Late Spring

  • Native To

    Southern Europe, Turkey, Western Asia

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Clay, Loam, Sand

  • Tolerances

    Pollution, Drought, Salt

  • Growth Rate

    Fast

  • Water Requirements

    Drought Tolerant, Average Water

  • Habit

    Arching/Fountain-shaped

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    White

  • Fruit Color

    Red, Orange Red

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Dark Green, Brown

  • Bark Color

    Brown

  • Fragrant Flowers

    Yes

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    Yes

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Fine

  • Foliage Sheen

    Glossy

  • Evergreen

    Yes

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Bark Texture

    Smooth

  • Usage

    Feature Plant, Foundation, Hedges, Mixed Border, Screening / Wind Break, Topiary / Bonsai / Espalier

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    Yes

  • Invasive

    No

  • Attracts

    Birds

  • Self-Sowing

    No