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Cranberry cotoneaster

Leaves of cranberry cotoneaster.

The stiff, arching branches of the cranberry cotoneaster form an impenetrable mass, making it very effective cascading over a wall, in a shrub border, as a foundation plant, or a ground cover.  Small, dark green, glossy leaves and cranberry-red fruit make it a nice addition to the landscape.  

Botanical name:

Cotoneaster apiculata

All Common Names:

Cranberry cotoneaster

Family (English):


Family (Botanic):


Tree or Plant Type:

  • Ground cover,
  • Shrub


  • Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)

Native Locale:

  • Non-native

Landscape Uses:

  • Foundation,
  • Massing,
  • Mixed border,
  • Patio/sidewalk

Size Range:

  • Low-growing shrub (under 3 feet)

Light Exposure:

  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily),
  • Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)

Hardiness Zones:

  • Zone 4,
  • Zone 5 (Chicago),
  • Zone 6,
  • Zone 7

Soil Preference:

  • Moist, well-drained soil


  • Dry sites,
  • Occasional drought,
  • Alkaline soil,
  • Clay soil,
  • Road salt

Season of Interest:

  • Late spring,
  • Early summer,
  • Mid summer,
  • Late summer,
  • Early fall,
  • Mid fall

Flower Color & Fragrance:

  • Pink

Shape or Form:

  • Arching,
  • Mounded

Growth Rate:

  • Slow

More Information:

Size and Form

2 to 3 feet high and 3 to 6 feet wide; spreading habit, often with arching branches.  It can be used as a shrub or a trailing ground cover.  Trailing ground covers have trailing stems that spread out from central root system.  These stems spread out horizontally over the ground, but do not root to the ground.

Tree & Plant Care

Generally a low maintenance plant.
Avoid wet planting sites.
Tolerant of many conditions (alkaline soil, drought, clay soil, salt).

Disease, pests and problems

Mites and scale insects are potential problems.

Native geographic location and habitat

Native to China

Bark color and texture 

Stiff, arching branches form an impenetrable mass.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

Simple, alternate, small leaves (less than 1 inch long); glossy, dark green.
Fall color is bronze-red; retains fall color into November.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

Small, pinkish flowers in late spring; solitary.

Cranberry cotoneaster (Cotoneaster apiculata)
Cranberry cotoneaster (Cotoneaster apiculata)
photo: John Hagstrom

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions

Cranberry-red fruit (pomes).



Location of Cotoneaster apiculata (Cranberry cotoneaster) at the Arboretum