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An evergreen shrub or small tree up to 15 ft high, of very dense, leafy habit; young shoots covered with grey down, the slender thorns 1⁄2 to 3⁄4 in. long; branches often thorn-tipped. Leaves narrowly obovate or oval, tapered at both ends, blunt-toothed; 1 to 21⁄2 in. long on the barren shoots, 1⁄2 to 11⁄2 in. long on the flowering ones, varying from 1⁄4 to 3⁄4 in. wide; dark glossy green above, paler beneath, glabrous except at the margins near the base; stalk 1⁄3 in. or less long, downy. Flowers white, 1⁄3 in. across, very numerously borne in early June in corymbs terminating short twigs which, springing from the shoots of the previous year, form one large panicle; flower-stalks and calyx slightly downy; calyx-lobes broadly triangular. Fruits brilliant coral-red, orange-shaped, about 1⁄4 in. across.
Native of S. Europe and the Near East (including the Crimea and Caucasus); its western limit as a truly wild plant is uncertain; in cultivation in Britain 1629.
This well-known evergreen is more often seen growing against a wall than in the open, and no doubt bears fruit more abundantly there. It is, in fact, one of the most desirable of evergreen wall shrubs. But when once established it is quite hardy in the open; at Kew there are specimens 15 ft high that bear fruit profusely. The shrubs have to be netted, as birds (blackbirds especially) are very greedy for the fruits. The pyracanth should be used more than it is as an evergreen shrub. It bears pruning well, and its only defect is that it transplants badly except when young.