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Genus Pyracantha Family Rosaceae

Description: Evergreen, usually spiny shrubs, all strongly heterophyllous.

Leaves simple; those on vigorous young shoots are usually much larger than on weaker branchlets, also more likely to be toothed. On older branches all leaves are on short or spur shoots (brachyblasts) which frequently end in a spine; short-shoot leaves are very mixed in size, those at the end of the season's growth smallest; stipules minute, not persistent.

Flowers in compound corymbs. Petals white. Stamens 20. Carpels 5, walls stony in fruit, ovules 2.

Fruit a pome, depressed-globose, red, orange or yellow, crowned by persistent sepals and stamens; 5-seeded.


Distribution and occurrence: World: 10 species, South-East Asia. Australia: 4 species (naturalized), N.S.W.

Pyracantha was formerly placed in the family Malaceae (now part of Rosaceae), e.g. Flora of New South Wales Vol. 1 (1990). Note: measurements and shapes are for average larger short-shoot leaves.

Text by G.J. Harden & A.N. Rodd
Taxon concept:

 Key to the species 
1Lower surface of leaves, inflorescence and persistent sepals on fruits densely white-tomentose; leaves narrowly oblong-cuneate, thick-textured, margins entire and revolutePyracantha angustifolia
Lower surface of leaves glabrous, inflorescences glabrous at least in fruit, persistent sepals glabrous or pubescent but not densely tomentose; leaves oblong to obovate, spathulate or elliptic, not thick-textured, margins mostly at least obscurely toothed or crenate, not revolute2
2Leaves mostly less than 10 mm wide, rarely to 15 mm wide and then to 7 cm long; length:width ratio c. 4:1 or greater, or if slightly less then leaves less than 30 mm long3
Leaves mostly more than 10 mm wide, length:width ratio c. 3:1 or less
                       Back to 1
Pyracantha crenatoserrata
3Apex of leaves acute or mucronate, margins fairly evenly and sharply toothed for most of their length, though some teeth very small; leaves mostly more than 30 mm long, widest at c. the middlePyracantha crenulata
Apex of leaves obtuse or rounded to emarginate, margins toothed, most prominently so only close to the apex, teeth rather coarse and blunt; leaves mostly less than 30 mm long, widest above the middle
                       Back to 2
Pyracantha rogersiana

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