Pyracantha is a popular garden shrub in Japan.

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Pyracantha ピラカンサis a member of the rose family and like many climbing roses, if grown against a wall, it prefers a warm, south facing position. ..oops, I planted ours in a north-east facing but sunny position.

Also known as Firethorn, the plant is native in places from southern Europe to Caucasus Mountains in western Asia.Tips from the Arcadian Archives

When planting a young specimen, it will become established quite quickly providing it is given free drainage and an open soil. If the soil is heavy, it is a good idea to incorporate grit and organic matter, for example, leaf mould or well-rotted material from the compost heap. The young roots do have an abhorrence of wet, compact soils and struggle to survive, especially throughout the winter months when the soil is also cold. Like many newly planted specimens, they are adversely effected by the combination of continuous damp and cold.

Flowers and berries are produced on wood that is at least one year old and this must be remembered when pruning. During the summer months, straggly growth can be removed for cosmetic reasons, but it is best to do the majority of formative pruning just as the flowers are beginning to fade – the presence of the flowers acts as an indicator for the potential crop of autumn berries and prevents pruning that may be too harsh.

The copious quantities of berries produced by Pyracanthas can become the object of desire for birds, especially blackbirds, and it is not unknown for them to strip whole plants. It has been noted that the birds are not so keen on yellow berried varieties such as P. rogersiana Flava which has been awarded a Royal Horticultural Society “Award of Garden Merit”. Birds are also attracted to wall grown specimens as potential nesting sites among the dense tangle of short, twiggy branches.

Pyracantha is often used as an espalier. Held flat against a wall, it can be shaped quite creatively. Because of its fast growth rate, sprawling, spreading habit, and ease of care, it can be used on slopes to great advantage requiring little maintenance or care. The wide-reaching stems may be pruned back as needed during warm weather as the shrub blooms on old wood. Even consider using it as an informal hedge! This will require some trimming and shaping for the first few years but the effort will produce impressively beautiful and secure (thorny) hedges.


The name means “Flame and thorn” in Greek. Often called “Tokiwa-sanzasi” or “kakyoku” in Japanese.


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