Cotoneaster horizontalis Decne.

rockspray cotoneaster, rock cotoneaster, rockspray
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Cotoneaster horizontalis
Elena Torres & Santiago Moreno
Licensed under CC BY-NC-SA

Cotoneaster horizontalis: Group of Cotoneaster horizontalis (in front, with ± horizontal branches) and Pyracantha crenatoserrata in autumn

Group of <span class=cursiva>Cotoneaster horizontalis</span> (in front, with ± horizontal branches) and <span class=cursiva>Pyracantha crenatoserrata</span> in autumnBranch with a very regular branching pattern, like a fishbone; leaves 8 mm long with entire margins; flowers solitary, with erect pink petalsBranch with small pomes that are almost ripe

Cotoneaster: From "cotoneum" = ancient Latin name for quince (Cydonia oblonga Mill.) and "-aster" = similar, indicating this is a wild relative

horizontalis, -e: horizontal, because of the growth of its branches


Habit: Deciduous or semi-deciduous prostrate shrub 0.5-1 m tall with long ± horizontal spreading branches.

Leaves: alternate, distichous, deciduous or subpersistent, simple, with small, deciduous stipules; petiole short, 1-3 mm long; blade 6-14 mm long x 4-9 mm wide, broadly elliptic to suborbicular, with a cuneate base and usually an acute and mucronate apex, entire, leathery, glabrous and ± glossy adaxially, sparsely pubescent abaxially.

Flowers: hermaphrodite, actinomorphic, epigynous, small, 5-7 mm in diam., pentamerous, axillary, solitary or geminate; hypanthium pubescent; calyx polysepalous, persistent; corolla polypetalous, pink, red or whitish; stamens c. 12; gynoecium syncarpous, 2-3-carpellate, with an inferior ovary and free styles.

Fruit: subglobose or ovoid red or orange-red pome 5-7 mm in diam., with 3 seeds.


It flowers in spring; fruits mature at the end of summer or autumn and persist into winter.

Geographic origin

Native to W China.


It is often cultivated as an ornamental, especially for its showy and abundant red fruits, which remain on the plant for several months, bringing colour to gardens in autumn or even winter.

It is very sensitive to fire blight, a serious disease caused by the bacterium Erwinia amylovora (Burrill) Winslow, which also affects fruit trees such as pear trees, apple trees and quince trees. The name of the disease is due to the appearance it gives young branches and sprouts, which look burnt when they are attacked by the disease.

It is propagated from semi-hardwood cuttings or seeds (which need scarification and stratification).

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