Scarlet Firethorn
Pyracantha coccinea(pi-ra-KANTH-a kok-SIN-ee-a )
Family: Rosaceae
| Pyracantha2 Podcast Script

Whole Plant


Angiosperm, Dicot, evergreen


Grows up to 10ft.tall and 12ft. wide in a tangled mound

Identifying Features:

The Firehorn's red or orange berries, also refered to as pomes, ripen in September and October and maintain their color through the winter season. On occassion and dependent on local bird populations, the berries even last into early spring. Clusters of creamy white 5 petaled flowers, or corymbs, cover the Firethorn. The leaves are slightly serrated and can be easily identitified by the large thorns that appear on the branches.


Native to Southern Europe and extends down the Causasus Mountains in Westerm Asia. Now widely cultivated and grows wild in parts of North America. Pyracantha thrives in dry to temperate climates. It is most commonly seen in California and Texas along with other western states such as Arizona and Utah.
More information on American Location


Creamy white corymbs appear in the spring and early summer months and give off an unpleasant odor. The flower clusters have numerous flowers and each of them have five pedals per flower. Numerous red or orange pomes decorate the Firethorn in late summer and winter. Pyracantha berries are not poisonous as commonly thought; although they are very bitter, they are edible when cooked. Birds prefer the berries as a food source.
More information on corymbs

Water/Sun/Soil Requirements:

Water & Sun-
Grows best in full sun or partial shade with well-drained soil. In highly fertile soil, Firethorn growth rate is too high, thus making it susceptible to fire blight, a destructive bacterial disease.
More information on fire blight

Grows best in pH levels ranging from 5 to 7.5, or slightly acidic soil. Soil should be fertile, well drained and with some sand or clay mixed in. Firethorn is renowned for being a hearty plant and can survive in moderate soil and living conditions.

Special Adaptations:

Leaves have a waxy coating, reffered to as cutin, on the upper epidermis. Cutin is impermiable to water and retains water in the plant and also acts a barrier to physical that resists penetration by certain viruses, bacteria, and fungi.
Image of cutin

The thorns on pyracantha, along with the reason for it's name, are evolutionary adaptations. The thorns protect the plant from larger herbivores searching for edible plants.
Image of thorn

Other Info:

Interesting Facts-
- Firethorn can be used as a frence because of its thick density and can also be shaped in many ways as a decorative plant
- Can be used for bonsai

Division- Magnoliophyta
Class- Manoliopsida
Order- Rosales
Family- Rosaceae

Reference Sources/Links:

Created by Adam S. 2007