|Pyracantha branch with berry-like pomes|
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 6 m (20 ft) 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 autumn.
- Pyracantha angustifolia. Southwest China.
- Pyracantha atalantioides. Southern China.
- Pyracantha coccinea (Scarlet firethorn). Northeastern Spain east to Northern Iran.
- 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, in conjunction with their home security qualities, makes them an alternative to artificial fences and walls. They are also good shrubs 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 (as are apples, plums, cherries, and almonds) are mildly poisonous as they contain Cyanogenic glycosides and can cause mild gastro-intestinal problems when eaten raw in large quantities; they are edible only when crushed and washed under running water. They have been made into jelly.
- Potter, D. et al. (2007). "Phylogeny and classification of Rosaceae". Plant Systematics and Evolution 266 (1–2): 5–43. doi:10.1007/s00606-007-0539-9. [Referring to the subfamily by the name "Spiraeoideae"]
- "RHS Plant Selector - Pyracantha 'Orange Glow'". Retrieved 30 May 2013.
- "RHS Plant Selector - Pyracantha 'Teton'". Retrieved 30 May 2013.
- Questions about Pyracantha answered by Dr Jerry Parsons of the Texas Cooperative Extension (hosted by Texas A&M University)
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