The firethorn is a dense, irregularly-shaped shrub that can grow up to 10 feet high and 12 feet wide. This shrub has glossy, oval-shaped, dark-green leaves that may remain present year round in mild climates, though will turn brown in the winter. The firethorn is also noted for its drooping clusters of white flowers, which give way to dense clusters of berry-like, red-orange fruits that ripen in the fall and persist into the winter. This shrub attracts birds and butterflies.
Family: Rosaceae (Rose)
Characteristics: The ½ -1 inch long leaves are elliptical, glossy, and dark green. In warm climates, the leaves will remain year round and turn brown in the winter. In late May, 2-3 inch long drooping clusters of flat-topped, unpleasant smelling, white flowers begin to bloom. These flowers give way to clusters of berry-like, red-orange fruits that ripen in September and persist into the winter. Bark is brown, glossy, and covered in ½ inch long thorns. The firethorn grows as a broad, irregularly-shaped, multi-stemmed shrub. It grows 8-10 feet high and 12 feet wide.
Foliage: Deciduous (leaves lost seasonally), Evergreen (foliage preset year round) in mild climates.
Geographic Origin: Europe, South West Asia (non-native)
Cultivation Notes: Requires low maintenance. Does best in full sun to part shade. Prefers dry to medium-moist, acidic or alkaline, well-drained soils. This tree can tolerate drought conditions, though is not very winter hardy. It should be planted in areas protected by strong winds. Unpruned shrubs will fruit best.
Number on Campus: 1
Sources: Dirr, Morton Arboretum, Missouri Botanical Garden