Pyracantha spp.

Family: Rosaceae

Type of weed:

Flower colour(s):

Priority Weed Local Priority Weed. (See more weeds of the class.)

Flowering Months: , ,


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.


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



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.


  • Hand remove
  • Remove flowers, fruit, pods or seeds
  • Stem inject or frill
  • Cut and paint

Manual control

Hand remove

Grasp stem at ground level. Rock weed backwards and forwards to loosen roots, then pull out gently. Carefully tap the roots to dislodge attached soil. Replace disturbed soil and pat down.

  • Leave weeds so that roots do not make contact with soil; on a rock, for instance. A small amount of debris may be hung in a tree or removed from the site.
  • Vary the position of your body to avoid fatigue when removing plants by hand over extended periods.

Remove seeds, pods or fruit

Gently remove any seeds, pods or fruit and carefully place in a bag.

Chemical control

Note: Herbicides that may be used for this weed include Glyphosate.

Stem injection or frilling

Stem injection
Drilling holes at 45° and squirting poison into holes
Apply poison immediately after drilling

At the base of the tree, drill holes at a 45° angle into the sapwood (just under the outer bark) at two finger space intervals around the entire base of the tree. Repeat this process below the lowest branch


As an alternative to drilling, make cuts into the sapwood with a chisel or axe. Fill each cut/hole with herbicide immediately. Repeat the process at 3 cm intervals around the tree.


Plants should be healthy and actively growing. Deciduous plants should be treated in spring and autumn when leaves are fully formed. For multi-stemmed plants, inject or chip below the lowest branch or treat each stem individually. Herbicide must be injected immediately before the plant cells close (within 30 seconds before translocation of herbicide ceases.)

Cut and paint

Applying poison to cut stump from squeeze bottle
Apply poison immediately after cutting

Useful for small to medium sized woody weeds up to 10 cm in diameter.

Make a horizontal cut as close to the ground as possible with secateurs or loppers, and immediately apply concentrated Glyphosate to the exposed stump surface. Do not allow the surface to get covered with soil.

Specific control tips for this weed

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 key points on these techniques:

Local Priority Weed

Control measures:

  • The plant should be fully and continuously suppressed and destroyed.
  • Plants under 4 metres in height should be fully and continuously suppressed and destroyed.
  • The spread of this plant should be adequately contained to prevent spread impacting on priority assets. Weed notices will only be issued for these weeds under special circumstances.

For more info

For key points on these techniques: