May to June
4 to 8 ft.
4 to 8 ft.
sun, part shade
USDA zones 5-9
hardy to 6,000 ft.
Gnome firethorn is a large, broadleaf evergreen shrub. It has narrow, deep green leaves in summer. They become tinged with burgundy in the winter.
Domed clusters of single, white flowers appear on spurs in the late spring on the previous year's wood. The flowers develop into tight clusters of pea-sized orange berries by late summer. The berries persist well into winter.
It is named "firethorn" for the many fierce thorns found on the rigid branches and at the ends of the leaf clusters. Firethorn grows best in full sun, but will tolerate some shade.
At the Xeriscape Demonstration Garden, firethorn has been growing for many years. It is a formidable, tangled shrub with stiff, thorny branches. In summer, it serves as a deep green background for foreground plants. In fall it is bright with orange berries. In winter it provides nice color in the garden, with its semi-evergreen leaves and orange berries.
Consistent pruning each year will simplify the task of maintaining this extremely dense thorny plant.