Pyracantha is a genus of thorny evergreen large shrubs in the family
Rosaceae, with common names Firethorn or Pyracantha. They are native
to an area extending from Southeast Europe east to Southeast Asia,
resemble and are related to Cotoneaster, but have serrated leaf
margins and numerous thorns (Cotoneaster is thornless).
The plants reach up to six metres tall. The seven species have
white flowers and either red, orange, or yellow berries (more
correctly pomes). The flowers are produced during late spring and
early summer; the pomes develop from late summer, and mature in late
Pyracantha angustifolia. Southwest China.
Pyracantha atalantioides. Southern China.
Pyracantha coccinea (Scarlet firethorn). Italy east to Asia Minor.
Pyracantha crenatoserrata. Central China.
Pyracantha crenulata. Himalaya.
Pyracantha koidzumii. Taiwan.
Pyracantha rogersiana. Yunnan.
Pyracanthas are valuable ornamental plants, grown in gardens for
their decorative flowers and fruit, often very densely borne. Their
dense thorny structure makes them particularly valued in situations
where an impenetrable barrier is required. The aesthetic
characteristics of pyracanthas plants, in conjunction with their
home security qualities, makes them a considerable alternative to
artificial fences and walls. They are also a good shrub for a
wildlife garden, providing dense cover for roosting and nesting
birds, summer flowers for bees and an abundance of berries as a food
source. Pyracantha berries are not poisonous as commonly thought;
although they are very bitter, they are edible when cooked and are
sometimes made into jelly. In the UK and Ireland Pyracantha and the
related genus Cotoneaster are valuable sources of nectar when often
the bees have little other forage during the June Gap.