AskDefine | Define cotoneaster

Dictionary Definition

cotoneaster n : any shrub of the genus Cotoneaster: erect or creeping shrubs having richly colored autumn foliage and many small white to pinkish flowers followed by tiny red or black fruits

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. Any of several erect or creeping shrubs, of the genus Cotoneaster, that have pinkish flowers and red berries.

Extensive Definition

Cotoneaster (Cotoneaster) is a genus of woody plants in the rose family Rosaceae, native to the Palaearctic region (temperate Asia, Europe, north Africa), with a strong concentration of diversity in the genus in the mountains of southwestern China and the Himalaya. They are related to hawthorns (Crataegus), firethorns (Pyracantha), photinias (Photinia) and rowans (Sorbus).
Depending on the species definition used, there are between 70 to 300 different species of cotoneaster, with many apomictic microspecies treated as species by some authors, but only as varieties by others.
The majority of species are shrubs from 0.5-5 m tall, varying from ground-hugging prostrate plants to erect shrubs; a few, notably C. frigidus, are small trees up to 15 m tall and 75 cm trunk diameter. The prostrate species are mostly alpine plants growing at high altitude (e.g. C. integrifolius, which grows at 3000-4000 m in the Himalaya), while the larger species occur in scrub and woodland gaps at lower altitudes.
The shoots are dimorphic, with long shoots (10-40 cm long) producing structural branch growth, and short shoots (0.5-5 cm long) bearing the flowers; this pattern often developing a 'herringbone' form of branching. The leaves are arranged alternately, 0.5-15 cm long, ovate to lanceolate, entire; both evergreen and deciduous species occur. The flowers are produced in late spring, solitary or in corymbs of up to 100 together; they are 5-10 mm diameter, and have five petals, creamy white to light pink, 10-20 stamens and up to five styles. The fruit is a small pome 5-12 mm diameter, bright red when mature, containing one to three (rarely up to five) seeds.
Cotoneaster species are used as larval food plants by some Lepidoptera species including Grey Dagger, Mottled Umber, Short-cloaked Moth and Winter Moth.


The genus is often divided into two or more sections, though the situation is complicated by hybridisation:


The genus name Cotoneaster derives from cotone, an old Latin name for the quince, and the suffix -aster, 'resembling'. The name is correctly masculine, though in some older works it was wrongly treated as feminine, resulting in different name endings for many of the species (e.g. "Cotoneaster integerrima" instead of Cotoneaster integerrimus).


cotoneaster in Danish: Dværgmispel
cotoneaster in German: Zwergmispeln
cotoneaster in Spanish: Cotoneaster
cotoneaster in Persian: شیرخشت
cotoneaster in French: Cotonéaster
cotoneaster in Upper Sorbian: Kisalnik
cotoneaster in Icelandic: Gljámispill
cotoneaster in Georgian: ვაშლანა
cotoneaster in Lithuanian: Kaulenis
cotoneaster in Polish: Irga
cotoneaster in Portuguese: Cotoneaster
cotoneaster in Russian: Кизильник
cotoneaster in Finnish: Tuhkapensaat
cotoneaster in Swedish: Oxbär
cotoneaster in Turkish: Dağ muşmulası
cotoneaster in Chinese: 栒子属
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