Firethorn

Pyracantha spp.

Family: Rosaceae

Type of weed:

Flowering Months: , ,

Description

Fiercely thorny shrubs or small trees up to 4m tall.

Leaves narrow and oblong-shaped, arranged alternately along stem. Upper surface glossy dark green, lower surface pale green, hairy.

Masses of white flowers in branched clusters occur in spring to summer, followed by masses of yellow to orange-red berries in late summer to autumn.

Don’t confuse with…

Firethorn can be confused with the weed Cotoneaster, but is easily distinguished from it by the presence of long spines.

Dispersal

Berries are attractive to birds, especially the Pied Currawong, which is a major dispersal source. Introduced black rats and native brushtail possums have been known to excrete seeds of Firethorn. Seeds can also spread into bushland from dumped garden waste.

Impact on bushland

Can invade forests, woodland and creeklines, and has the potential to form dense infestations that will smother native vegetation

Distribution

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Alternative planting

Native plants

Bird attracting natives, screening shrubs and small trees such as:

  • Banksia (Banksia ericifolia, B. serrata, or ‘Giant Candles’)
  • Lilypillies (Acmena smithii)
  • Grevillea spp.
  • Hakea dactyloides
  • Acacia fimbriata
  • Callistemon spp.
  • Leptospermum spp.

Council provides a tool, on its Mountain Landscapes website, to help you choose native alternative plantings. Choose your village, soil, vegetation community and the purpose of your planting, and the tool will give you suggestions.

There are native nurseries in several Blue Mountains villages, including Glenbrook, Lawson and Katoomba. Please also ask at your favourite local nursery.

Control

Because the berries are bird spread, treat plants before they fruit. Bag and dispose of berries, or place in a hot compost to kill the seeds. Other cut parts of the plant can be spread out to dry off the ground. Once material is dead it will decompose in place, or can be composted.

For more info

For key points on these techniques: