Know your alien invasive plant: Cotoneaster

The seeds of a Cotoneaster or Cotoneaster glaucophyllus alien invasive plant. PHOTO: Rob and Fiona Richardson.

THIS week, Hillcrest Conservancy takes a look at the Cotoneaster as part of its series of articles on alien invasive plants to help the community to identify and eradicate them from their gardens.

The Cotoneaster’s scientific name is Cotoneaster glaucophyllus but it is also known as the large-leaved cotoneaster and bloudwergmispel (Afrikaans).


Description: It is an upright or arching shrub (up to five metres) branching from the base. The leaves are elliptic 15mm to 40mm wide and 7mm to 12mm wide. The top of the leaf is dark green and smooth while the under surface is grey with white hairs which wear off as the leaves mature. The flowers appear in white clusters in Spring and Summer. The seeds are fleshy red and spheroidal in shape up to 10mm in size and are highly attractive to small children. Remember they are poisonous.

Where does the species come from? China and the Himalayas.

Where is it a problem? Mostly Gauteng and Limpopo but also in KZN.

What is its invasive status in South Africa? It is a Category 1b plant that must be removed from your garden to avoid prosecution.


Flowers of a Cotoneaster glaucophyllus serotinus. PHOTO:


How does it spread? Through birds and through fruit washed along watercourses.

Why is it a problem? The fruit is poisonous to humans and is the host to the bacterial fire blight which can devastate orchards.

Does the plant have any uses? Ornamental uses.

Contact Ian Pattrick on 079 909 5458 or Hillcrest Conservancy chairman, George Victor, on 073 901 3902 or e-mail [email protected]


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Ian Pattrick, Hillcrest Conservancy

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