Firethorn is a semi-evergreen shrub with shiny leaves that remain long into winter, white spring flowers, and brilliant orange berries in the fall. Plants can be unruly if not pruned regularly.
This plant has some cultivated varieties. Go to list of cultivars.
All Common Names:
Tree or Plant Type:
- Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
- Mixed border,
- Large shrub (more than 8 feet)
- Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily),
- Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
- Zone 5 (Chicago),
- Zone 6,
- Zone 7,
- Zone 8,
- Zone 9
- Acid soil,
- Alkaline soil,
- Dry soil,
- Moist, well-drained soil
Season of Interest:
- Early winter,
- Late spring,
- Late summer,
- Early fall,
- Mid fall,
- Late fall
Flower Color & Fragrance:
Shape or Form:
Tree & Plant Care
A semi-evergreen shrub in the northern climates, evergreen in the south. Firethorn reaches 10 to 15 feet high and wide.
Often used as a barrier screen because of the stiff thorny branches.
It makes an attractive shrub because of the persistent winter berries.
Can also be trained as a espalier vine up a wall.
Best planted in spring in moist, well-drained soil in full sun. Tolerant of part shade and dry conditions once established.
Flowers on old wood so prune after flowering to keep in bounds, but watch out for thorny stems.
Disease, pests, and problems
Fireblight, leaf spots, scale, spider mites
Disease, pest, and problem resistance
Very tolerant of urban conditions, poor soil, salt, heat, and dry soil
Native geographic location and habitat
Italy to Caucasus
Attracts birds & butterflies
Birds are attracted to berries
Bark color and texture
Glossy brown with 1/2-inch thorns
Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture
Alternate, evergreen in warm climates, to semi-evergreen in cold climates.
Narrow, elliptical 1/2 to 1-inch long leaves, lusterous dark green in summer, brownish in winter.
Flower arrangement, shape, and size
Flat-topped, 2 to 3 inch clusters of white, malodorous flowers in later May.
Flowers bloom on last years growth. Prune after flowering.
Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions
Abundant, berry-like clusters of fruits ripen in September to a bright orange-red.
Persistent into winter. Best fruiting occurs on unpruned shrubs.