General description

Evergreen, spiny shrub. Stems are horizontal, densely hairy and grey/white when young, turning red/brown/dark grey with maturity. Leaves are < 55 x 10 mm. Flowers are white, < 12 mm in diameter and borne in clusters in December – January. Fruit is yellow/orange, < 7 mm in diameter and borne in April – August.

What you need to know

To help protect our environment:

  • You must not breed, distribute, release or sell firethorn. As firethorn is a National Pest Plant Accord species, these restrictions apply within the Auckland region and across the whole of New Zealand.
  • You must not plant firethorn within the Auckland region, unless you are transferring an existing plant on your land to another location within the boundaries of the same property.
  • You must destroy any firethorn on land that you occupy if it has been planted in breach of the above rules and you are directed to do so by an authorised person.

Open forests, forest fragments, scrub, roadsides, wasteland, pasture, open or semi-open habitats.

Seeds dispersed by birds and mammals. Human-mediated dispersal through dumping of garden waste and deliberate plantings.

Restructures woody plant communities and acts as a nurse plant for privet.

Site Management

Follow up treated areas 3 times per year. Encourage natural regeneration of native plants or replant treated areas where possible after 2-3 treatments to establish dense ground cover and minimise reinvasion.

Recommended approaches

Physical control

Method: Dig out

Plant parts requiring disposal: All parts

Disposal options: Remove to greenwaste or landfill


Biocontrol is currently not available for this species.

Community agrichemical control recommendations

No qualifications
Cut stump and paste freshly cut base of stems with metsulfuron gel
Large stems can be frilled and pasted with metsulfuron gel

Basic Growsafe certified
Cut stump and spray freshly cut base with 5g metsulfuron-methyl per 1 L of water
Remove cut stems to greenwaste or landfill or stack in a pile and spray

Certified Handler/Experienced agrichemical user
Foliar spray with 5g metsulfuron-methyl per 10L of water and 20ml penetrant

Safety notes

Plant has spines.

CAUTION: When using any herbicide or pesticide please read the label thoroughly to ensure that all instructions and safety requirements are followed.

Similar species

Cotoneaster glaucophyllus, C. franchetii

Cotoneaster has oval leaves and red berries.

Search tags

RPMP status

National Pest Plant Accord Species
Whole region (Sustained Control)
Firethorn - Main species image