Pyracantha coccinea
Common Name: scarlet firethorn 
Type: Deciduous shrub
Family: Rosaceae
Native Range: Europe, southwestern Asia
Zone: 6 to 9
Height: 6.00 to 18.00 feet
Spread: 6.00 to 18.00 feet
Bloom Time: May
Bloom Description: White
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Hedge
Flower: Showy
Attracts: Birds
Fruit: Showy
Other: Thorns
Tolerate: Clay Soil


Grown in average, dry to medium moisture, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. Best in fertile soils with sharp drainage. Good tolerance for clay soils as well as drought conditions. Not reliably winter hardy throughout the St. Louis area where shrubs should be sited in protected areas sheltered from cold winds.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Pyracantha coccinea, commonly known as scarlet firethorn, is native from southeastern Europe to the Caucasus. It is an evergreen to semi-evergreen shrub that typically grows to 8-10' tall and to 12' wide. It is noted for spring white flowers in drooping clusters, glossy green leaves, needle-like spines, and orange-red berries in fall. Foliage is evergreen in mild climates, but semi-evergreen to mostly deciduous in the St. Louis area.

Genus name comes from the Greek pyr meaning fire and akantha meaning a thorn in reference to the thorny branches and the showy crimson fruit.

Specific epithet comes from Latin coccineus (scarlet).


Susceptible to scab. Additional disease problems include fireblight and wilt. Potential insect pests include aphids, lacebug and scale. Deer tend to avoid this plant.


Impenetrable shrub for informal hedges, hedgerows, dense screens or property lines. Also effective when massed to cover slopes. Group or accent in shrub borders. May be sheared as a hedge, but severe pruning performed after flowering will adversely affect fruit production. Espaliers trained on wall or fence. Best planted in areas where the thorns will not present a problem.