Pyracantha Coccinea or Firethorn
The name of the genus is derived form the Greek words pyr, meaning fire, and akantha, meaning thorn. The first refers to the bright red colour of the fruits, the second to the fact that most of the species are thorny. There are only six species found in south eastern Europe, central China and the Himalayas.
Firethorn is native to Italy and western Asia and was introduced into western Europe and Britain by Zabel in 1629. The creamy-whitehave five sepals and five petals, five pistils and many stamens and are borne in dense clusters (cymes) in June. The shrub grows to a height of 2, occasionally 3m (10 ft). The fruits ripen in September and October and their bright red colour makes them a very attractive ornament in parks and gardens. Cultivated forms with berries of a different colour include ‘Kasan’, with orange fruits; ‘Golden Charmer’, with large golden-yellow berries; ‘Orange Charmer’, with large orange fruits, and ‘Orange Glow’, with orange-red fruits.
Firethorn is propagated by means of seeds which are stored for the winter and stratified in spring, either in April or May, and sown in the autumn of the same year. It may also be propagated by summer cuttings which are put in a frame and, when they have rooted, transferred to pots. Firethorn requires a light to moderately heavythat is fairly moist and should be planted with the rootball intact, for otherwise it does not root well. It is a very decorative shrub and is most effective as a solitary specimen. It can also be used for hedges. Branches with fruits are often cut and put in a vase where they are long-lived.