Cotoneaster (Cotoneaster species)

Photo: (c) Malte

Family: Rosaceae

Growth Habit: Cotoneasters have ovate to lanceolate shaped like a lance tip leaves, arranged alternatvely that vary from grey-green to dark green and 5mm – 150 mm long depending on the species. All species have indendeted veins and and are darker above and lighter and hairy underneath. There are a large number of commercially available varieties that vary in their height and habit.

Type of Plant: Deciduous, semi deciduous or evergreen (depending on species and local conditions) low to tall woody shrubs.

Flowers: Scented small white to cream flowers in bunches in spring.

Photo: John Tann

Fruit/Seed: A prolific number of bright red or orange, round berries 7-8 mm in diameter, often produced in clusters, late summer to autumn. Each fruit has two seeds.

Dispersal: Fruit are eaten by birds and animals. The seeds pass through these animals unharmed and may be dropped at some distance from the parent plant in neighbouring bushland. Some varieties sucker when damaged.

Distribution: There is little collected information about the distribution of Cotoneaster in Tasmania. Many species are very popular as ornamental plants, so they are common in all urban areas. Localized infestations can be seen at the edges of native forest, in bush reserves and along roadsides where they have escaped from local gardens.

Status: Cotoneaster is not a declared weed in Tasmania.

Weed Impact:

  • Competes with native species.
  • Has the potential to become a serious invader of bushland areas.
  • Fruit are poisonous in large amounts to people, dogs and livestock, especially ruminants.
  • The berries appear to encourage and support some introduced pest species of birds including starlings, blackbirds and sparrows.
  • Cotoneaster are commonly used to supply winter colour in many public and private gardens. The bright berries are retained on the bushes for many months. The plants are very hardy.
  • There is much discussion as to whether all species in the group share the same weed potential.

For further information on Cotoneaster contact the Department of Primary Industry and Fisheries, Tasmania (Tel: 03 6421 7634, Fax: 03 6424 5142).

Control Methods:

  • Grubbing (all year). Carefully remove seedlings and small bushes using a mattock or spade.
  • Cut stump method just after fruiting in autumn.
  • Stem injection spring or early summer, before fruit mature in early autumn.
  • Herbicide (summer, spring and autumn). Glyphosate or triclopyr + picloram can be used on larger plants applying the cut stump method.

N.B. Always check the herbicide label before use.