Firethorn Facts

Firethorn Facts
Firethorn, also known as pyracantha, is an evergreen shrub that belongs to the family of roses. It originates from Southeast Europe and Southeast Asia. There are 7 species of firethorn that can be found in the warmer parts of Europe, Africa and North America. Firethorn grows on slightly acidic, fertile, well-drained soil, exposed to direct sunlight or in the partial shade. People cultivate firethorn mostly in ornamental purposes.
Interesting Firethorn Facts:
Firethorn is prickly shrub that can reach 6 to 16 feet in height and 5 to 10 feet in width.
Firethorn produces numerous branches covered with long, sharp thorns.
Firethorn produces small, oval leaves with smooth edges. Leaves are evergreen, shiny and equipped with short leaf stalks.
Firethorn develops creamy white flowers arranged in dense clusters. Flowers contain both types of reproductive organs (perfect).
Firethorn blooms from May to June. Flowers are fragrant and they attract bees, butterflies and birds, main pollinators of this plant.
Fruit of firethorn is yellow, orange or red, berry-like pome (type of fruit that consists of several small seed covered with tough membrane, embedded in edible flesh). Dense clusters of ripe fruit appear during the autumn and remain on the bush during the winter.
Firethorn propagates via seed and cuttings.
Fruit of firethorn is important source of food for the wild birds. Some birds construct their nests among dense branches and thorns of firethorn or use this plant as shelter during the winter.
All parts of firethorn contain hydrogen cyanide, toxic compound that can be fatal for humans when consumed in high quantities. Plant sap can induce irritations and rash on the human skin.
Even though high doses of hydrogen cyanide can be deadly for humans, small amounts of this compound can act beneficially on digestion and respiration.
Fruit of firethorn also contains small quantities of hydrogen cyanide. Consumption of raw fruit can induce mild gastrointestinal disorders (diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal ache). Fruit of firethorn needs to be crushed and thoroughly washed before consumption (water eliminates toxic compounds). Bitter taste of the fruit can be eliminated by cooking. Firethorn can be consumed in the form of jellies, marmalades and sauces.
Flowers of firethorn are rich source of nectar which represents basic source of food for the bees in the UK during the June.
Compounds isolated from firethorn have potential to prevent development of certain types of cancer.
Firethorn is cultivated in ornamental purposes because of its decorative flowers and berries which this plant produces in abundance. Firethorn can be cultivated as pot plant or in the form of large espaliers and hedges.
Firethorn is perennial plant that can survive 5 to 20 years in the wild, depending on the species and climates where it grows.

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