Cotoneaster microphyllus

Common Name: small-leaved cotoneaster 
Type: Broadleaf evergreen
Family: Rosaceae
Native Range: Himalayas
Zone: 5 to 7
Height: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Spread: 6.00 to 8.00 feet
Bloom Time: April to June
Bloom Description: White
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Hedge
Flower: Showy
Fruit: Showy, Edible
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Rabbit, Drought


Best grown in moist, moderately fertile, well-drained loams in full sun to part shade. Good soil drainage is important. This is a tough and adaptable plant that can withstand poor soils, including rocky ones. Drought tolerant once established. Avoid wet, poorly-drained soils. Propagate by stem cuttings or seed. Plants do not perform well in the hot and humid summer conditions of the deep South.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Cotoneaster microphyllus, commonly called littleleaf cotoneaster, is a low-growing evergreen to semi-evergreen shrub that typically grows to 2-3’ tall but spreads to as much as 6-8’ wide. It is native to rocks, slopes, thickets and high alpine areas in the Himalayas. Stiff, horizontal, spreading branches are clad with shiny dark green leaves (to 1/2” long) which are woolly gray beneath. Small leaf size is the source of the common name. Small, mostly solitary, 5-petaled, white flowers (to 1/3” diameter) bloom in clusters from late April into June. Flowers are followed by round red fruits (1/4” diameter) which persist through winter.

Genus name comes from the Latin cotonea meaning "quince" and aster meaning "resembling" or "similar to".

Specific epithet from Latin means with small leaves.


Has better resistance to fireblight than many of the other species in this genus, but is still susceptible to this disease which can be particularly troublesome in hot southern areas. Leaf spots and canker. Potential insect problems include cotoneaster webworm and lacebug. Watch for mites, particularly in hot and dry growing conditions. Dense foliage can present maintenance problems because of the difficulty of cleaning dead leaves and trash from the interior of a planting.


This cotoneaster is an interesting landscape plant that offers good foliage, small but attractive flowers and showy red fruit. Woodland gardens. Rockeries. Hedge. Good in small groups. Do not plant in areas where invasive spread is a potential problem. Fruits are edible if cooked, but are not recommended for consumption raw.