Pyracantha coccinea

Scarlet Firethorn, Firethorn

pi-ra-CAN-tha cok-SIN-i-a
Pronunciation Audio

Italy to Caucasus

Growth Habit

Semi-evergreen to evergreen shrub with stiff, thorny branches and an open habit if left unpruned; can become wild and woolly unless pruned properly throughout its lifespan.


Full to partial sun and well-drained, dry soil. Prune regularly (any time of year) to manage growth. Plant from containers in spring; does not transplant well.

Landscape Use

Thorny, semi-evergreen shrub with an open habit if left unpruned. Size ranges from 6-18 feet in height and spread. Leaves are alternate, narrow-elliptic to lanceolate or oblanceolate, 1 to 2 inches long on long shoots. Foliage is lustrous dark green in the summer and brownish in the winter. The flowers are perfect, white, .33 inches across and emerge in late May to June in 2 inches in diameter compound corymbs on spurs along the stem of last year's growth. Flowers are quite abundant and showy. Their scent is rather unpleasant. The fruits, the best attribute of this plant, emerge in September and persist through the winter. Fruits are orange-red, berry-like pomes, about .25 inches diamter. Pyracantha makes an effective barrier and can be trained to grow on trellises or walls. It is relatively suscetible to fire blight.


Alternate, lanceolate to oblanceolate, crenulate, .5 to 2.5 inches long and .25 to .75 inches wide, shiny deep green. Young leaves have pubescence on underside.


Young stems are pubescent, mature stems are dark glossy brown with .5 to .75 inch spines.


Perfect, whitish, .33 inches across; quite showy as the inflorescences literally shroud the plants.


Orange or red drupes, .25 inches in diameter, ripe from fall through winter.


Softwood cuttings root readily under mist. Treat with 1000-3000 ppm IBA to hasten rooting.

Fireblight, scab, twig blight, leaf blight, root rot, aphids, lace bug, scales.

'Aurea' - Form with yellow fruits.

'Lalandei' - One of the hardier forms with orange-red fruits.

'Royal' - Hardy, upright-branched, orange-fruited form.