PYRACANTHA (Firethorn)

S Europe to SW Asia, the Himalayas, China & Taiwan

Pyracantha, spring 2014


The evergreen leaves of this thorny climber are small, dark green & tough. Its CREAM coloured flowers are much visited by bees in spring – ORANGE berries follow & may last into winter for hungry birds.

“Their dense thorny structure makes them particularly valued in situations where an impenetrable barrier is required. … aesthetic characteristics of pyracanthas, in conjunction with their home security qualities, makes them an alternative to artificial fences & walls. They are also good shrubs for a wildlife garden, providing dense cover for roosting & nesting birds, summer flowers for bees & an abundance of berries as a food source. In the UK & Ireland Pyracantha and the related genus Cotoneaster are valuable sources of nectar when often the bees have little other forage during the June Gap.”                  

Pyracantha berries in sunshine

Pyracantha flowers closeup


When choosing a spot to plant Pyracantha, be aware that its sharp thorns may macerate passing humans unless it is tied back or clipped regularly. A handsome version of our own shrub grows at the side of a property on Ambler Road, edging a large concrete ‘garden’ where cars can park on Arsenal Matchdays. Here it looks lush, with its billowing waves of orange berries.

Years ago RF planted our own Firethorn near the path from the house into the garden. There it grew into a formidable shrub, a good two metres tall. Its questing shoots reached into the path, where sharp thorns rasped passing humans until pruned. The prickly Pyracantha was carefully dug up and moved. It now lives on the opposite side of the garden, where it has been trained onto RF’s cane trellis. There it wrestles with the canes, bending them this way and that.

RHS advice:

Pyracantha berries on RF trellis, Bempton feeder