Pyracantha angustifolia


Family: Rosaceae

Origin: China

Firethorn trees with hundreds of orange berries.
Firethorn shrub leaves are hairless above and hairy below.
Photo credit: Jonathan Boow

Regional Pest Management Plan (RPMP) status

  • National Pest Plant Accord Species
  • Whole region — Sustained control

View more about the RPMP statuses

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.

Impact on environment

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.

Close up of one branch of firethorn with berries all over.
It produces large amounts of glossy orange berries.
Photo credit: Jonathan Boow
Close up of firethorn berries.
It forms dense stands that stop native species from establishing.
Photo credit: Jonathan Boow
A branch of firethorn without any berries.
The leaves are dark green oval to egg-shaped.
Photo credit: Forest and Kim Starr