Pyracantha is a genus of thorny evergreen large shrubs in the family Rosaceae, with common names firethorn or pyracantha. They are native to an area extending from Southeast Europe east to Southeast Asia, resemble and are related to Cotoneaster, but have serrated leaf margins and numerous thorns (Cotoneaster is thornless).The plants reach up to 6 m (20 ft) tall. The flowers are produced during late spring and early summer; the pomes develop from late summer, and mature in late autumn. Pyracanthas are valuable ornamental plants, grown in gardens for their decorative flowers and fruit, often very densely borne. Their dense thorny structure makes them particularly valued in situations where an impenetrable barrier is required. The aesthetic characteristics of pyracanthas, in conjunction with their home security qualities, makes them an alternative to artificial fences and walls. They are also good shrubs for a wildlife garden, providing dense cover for roosting and nesting birds, summer flowers for bees and an abundance of berries as a food source. Pyracantha berries are mildly poisonous as they contain Cyanogenic glycosides and can cause mild gastro-intestinal problems ; they are edible only when crushed and washed under running water. They have been made into jelly. Pyracantha make fantastic bonsai specimens.
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