Cotoneaster lacteus W. W. Sm.

late cotoneaster
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Cotoneaster lacteus
Elena Torres & Santiago Moreno
Licensed under CC BY-NC-SA

Cotoneaster lacteus: Appearance of a hedge in autumn

Appearance of a hedge in autumnBranch with 3.5 cm-long leaves dark green above and fuzzy below with yellow hairsBranch with numerous corymbiform inflorescencesFlowers 4 mm in diam., with erect petals; the 2 free styles are visibleBranch with small mature subglobose pomes

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

lacteus, -a, -um: milky, white, because of the colour of its flowers


Habit: Evergreen shrub 1.5-4 m tall.

Leaves: alternate, persistent, 3-8 cm long, simple, with small deciduous stipules; petiole short, c. 5 mm long; blade 1-3 cm wide, elliptic to slightly obovate, acute or obtuse, slightly mucronate, with entire somewhat revolute margins, discolorous, dark green adaxially and very pale, yellowish abaxially due to the presence of a dense layer of flexuous ± appressed hairs.

Flowers: hermaphrodite, actinomorphic, epigynous, small, 4-5 mm in diam., pentamerous, in corymbiform terminal cymes growing at the apex of short shoots; hypanthium tomentose; calyx polysepalous, tomentose, persistent; corolla polypetalous, white; stamens c. 20; gynoecium syncarpous, 2-carpellate, with an inferior ovary and free styles.

Fruit: subglobose or obovoid red pome 5-8 mm in diam., with 2 seeds.


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

Geographic origin

Native to S 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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