The evergreen, noted for its spectacular display of orange-red berries and shiny, brown bark, climbs to ten feet tall and about twelve to fifteen feet wide. It has small, rounded, dark glossy green foliage and has extremely sharp, spur-like thorns on its branches. In the spring, the firethorn produces small clusters of slightly fragrant, white flowers. In late fall, clusters of red or orange berries form and by the dead of winter, they ripen to add color to any garden. The berries are eaten by birds or other animals. In colder climates, the berries and leaves are darker in color. This plant is a very fast grower and there are many varieties available. Use it as an espalier or vine trained up against the wall or shaped on a wall. It can also be used as a bank cover on a slope or groomed as a shrub or hedge. The firethorn branches look great in flower arrangements and the berries add color to wreaths. The plant is native to Southeastern Europe and into western Asia.
It takes full sun and reflected heat, and is not particular about soil types. The plant prefers infrequent irrigations and is hardy to about ten degrees Fahrenheit. Firethorn needs a good amount of pruning throughout its growing season to keep its shape. It is highly susceptible to spider mites. If infected, treat it with a blast of water to wash off the mites or use a systemic insecticide. It may also suffer from iron chlorosis. If needed, treat with chelated iron fertilizer.