Pyracantha

Scientific Name(s): Pyracantha genus
Abundance: plentiful
What: berries
How: raw, syrup, jelly, dehydrated fruit leather
Where: landscaping, woods
When: fall
Nutritional Value: vitamin C when raw or dehydrated
Dangers: thorns contain a natural, painful irritant



Leaves look like Yaupon holly leaves but Pyrancantha leaf edges are smooth whereas Yaupon holly leaf edges are bumpy.
Pyracantha

Leaves and thorns
Pyracantha

Thorn
Pyracantha

Close-up of flower
Pyracantha

Unripe fruit, April in Houston. Note the "crowns" at the base of the fruit.
Pyracantha

Almost ripe, October in Houston.
Pyracantha

Fully ripe and ready to be made into jelly, January in Houston.
Pyracantha

Texas distribution, attributed to U. S. Department of Agriculture. The marked counties are guidelines only. Plants may appear in other counties, especially if used in landscaping.
Pyracantha TX

North American distribution, attributed to U. S. Department of Agriculture.
Pyracantha NA

Fall brings forth a lot of different red berries in Texas, both wild and landscaping. One of the most thickly-covered red berry bushes is Pyracantha. These started out as a non-native landscaping plant but due to birds LOVING these berries, the seeds have been spread far and wide. Finding these thorn-covered bushes in the wild is becoming more and more common. The alternative name for these is "fire thorn" because the tips of its long, sharp thorns contain a powerful irritant, making any scratch from it hurt a lot more than expected.

Ripe, red Pyracantha (aka fire thorn) berries are a bland food but high in vitamin C. The most common use for these berries is to make jelly. Like with beautyberry, you need to add a lot more pectin to the syrup to get it jell up properly, up to doubling the amount pectin for a proper jelly. Some cinnamon improves the apple-like flavor. The end result will have lost a lot of its vitamin C due to the cooking process.

The best place to plant these evergreen shrubs is in front of large, first-floor windows. Their sharp, irritating thorns make an excellent barrier, sending thieves looking for an easier target. Food and protection in one plant! Prune it 1-2 times a year to shape the wall of thorns. If you're a birdwatcher, placement by a window will give you a front row seat as cedar waxwings and other birds show up to devour these berries.


Buy my book! Idiots Guide Foraging covers 70 of North America's tastiest and easy to find wild edibles shown with the same big pictures as here on the Foraging Texas website.

Privacy Statement

I use third-party advertising companies to serve ads when you visit this website. These companies may use information (not including your name, address, email address, or telephone number) about your visits to this and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like more information about this practice and to know your choices about not having this information used by these companies, click here.