Floridata Plant Encyclopedia

A Floridata Plant Profile 232 Pyracantha coccinea

Common Names: firethorn, scarlet firethorn Family: Rosaceae (rose Family)
Image Gallery

firethorn fruits
The firethorn produces heavy crops of berries that ripen in September and October and that persist to lend color to the landscape throughout the winter.


Firethorn is a large, evergreen shrub that is cherished for its spectacular fall and winter display of scarlet fruits and ability to withstand dry and droughty conditions. Shooting long lanky stems in all directions, firethorn typically grows into a tangled mound up to 10 ft (3.1 m) in height and 12 ft (3.7 m) wide. It is armed with sharp thorns that hide among the dark, glossy green leaves. Clusters (corymbs) of small white flowers appear in spring. These are up to 2 in (5 cm) across and are borne close together creating the appearance of nearly solid surface of flowers. In fall the 1/4 in (0.6 cm) berries begin to ripen, their color mellowing from green to shades of red, orange, or yellow. These persist through winter and into early spring depending on climate and appetite of the local bird population. Under bright sunny conditions the berries are plentiful but expect smaller crops in shadier situations. The color of both leaves and berries tends to be darker in cooler climates.

Firethorn is very fast growing and cultivars and hybrids are available that may be considerably more compact or otherwise differ in form from than the species. These also vary by form, fruit color and hardiness. 'Mohave' is dense, grows to about 12 ft (3.7 m) high and has red berries. 'Orange Glow' is more open in form with vivid orange berries. 'Lalandei' is a large upright selection that can grow to 20 ft(6.1 m) that produces huge quantities of scarlet fruits.

yellow firethorn fruits
This is 'Soleil d'Or', an upright, densely branched variety with yellow fruit. This one was thrives in a container on a busy city street in Vancouver, British Columbia.


Firethorn (Pyracantha coccinea) is native within a range extending from southern Europe to Caucasus Mountains in western Asia.


Not particular about soil and requires little or no supplemental fertilization. Light: Full sun preferred but will grow in partial to fairly heavy shade. Flowering and fruiting will not be as heavy. Moisture: Moist to very dry, well drained soil. Hardiness: USDA Zones 5 - 9. Propagation: Hardwood cuttings.
firethorn shrub
This firethorn's branches droop gracefully under the load of a heavy crop of fruit.


Pyracantha is often used as an espalier. Held flat against a wall, it can be shaped quite creatively. Because of its fast growth rate, sprawling, spreading habit, and ease of care, it can be used on slopes to great advantage requiring little maintenance or care. The wide-reaching stems may be pruned back as needed during warm weather as the shrub blooms on old wood. Even consider using it as an informal hedge! This will require some trimming and shaping for the first few years but the effort will produce impressively beautiful and secure (thorny) hedges.

Landscapers love the firethorns for their fast rate of growth and ability to withstand drought and neglect. The shrubs ruggedness and disease and pest resistance makes this plant a very popular item in commercial landscapes.


The prolific flowers are lovely to behold and have some fragrance (although not all would agree that it is appealing). Birds, especially cedar waxwings, like the plump, colorful berries. The brilliant berry-laden branches of pyracantha hold up extremely well in cut arrangements and add interest and color to wreaths.

Jack Scheper 02/22/99; updated 03/30/99, 10/13/05

Master Plant List

Click here to find plants in our Encyclopedia using the Master Plant List grid. Use this widget to search, sort and filter Floridata's plant database to easily locate Plant Profile pages. Use the dropdown menus to filter the grid to display items matching the selected Plant Type and Feature tags.

Plant Type Tags

tree icon
shrub icon
perennial plant icon
aquatic plant icon
cactus and succulents icon
grass icon
vine icon

Feature Tags

Attracts Birds
Attracts butterflies
Attracts Hummingbirds
Edible Plants
Cutting and Arranging
for pots and containers
drought tolerant plants
grows in wet soils
ornamental fruits
fall color
foliage plants
easy to grow plants
fast growing

Site Search

Use Google to search all of the pages on Floridata including the Plant Profile pages

Pyracantha species profiled on Floridata:

Pyracantha coccinea

( firethorn, scarlet firethorn )

More Floridata:

Copyright 2015 Floridata.com LLC