Wild cotoneaster (Cotoneaster cambricus)

GenusCotoneaster (1)
SizeLeaf length: 1.5 - 4 cm (2)
Height: 15-100 cm (2)
Fruit length: 7 - 11 mm (3)

Classified as Endangered in Britain and protected under Schedule 8 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (4).

Wild cotoneaster is a member of the rose family. It is a bushy deciduous shrub that grows to a height of 100 cm. In young shrubs, the stems are woolly, but they become smooth in older specimens. The leaves are green and matt on the upper surface but grey and woolly underneath. The small flowers have pink petals, and the berry-like fruits are red (2). Until quite recently it was thought to be a native endemic species, but its taxonomic status is currently in doubt. It is now believed that it may actually be the same species as the widespread C. integerrimus, and therefore an introduced plant (5).

Just a few plants are found on Great Ormes’ Head in Caernarvon, north Wales. It has always been rare at this site, and in 1978 the population reached a low of just 6 plants. As a result of introducing cultivated plants this number was increased to around 33 plants (4).

Found on limestone rocks and ledges (5).

This deciduous shrub does not seem to regenerate by seed or by vegetative reproduction at the site in Wales (5). The flowers are visited by a range of insects, including wasps (2).

Since it was discovered in 1825 this shrub has declined due to poor fruiting, scrub encroachment and grazing (5). Damage by climbers is also thought to have been a problem (4).

Most of the remaining wild cotoneaster occurs within a country park managed by the local authority and designated as both a Local Nature Reserve (LNR) and a Site of Special Scientific Importance (SSSI). Furthermore, a voluntary agreement has been made to control the impact of climbing at the site (4).

The UK BAP Species Action Plan for wild cotoneaster is available on-line at:

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact: arkive@wildscreen.org.uk

  1. National Biodiversity Network Species Dictionary (September, 2003)
  2. Clapham, A.R., Tutin, T.G. and Moore, D.M. (1987) Flora of the British Isles: 3rd Edition. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
  3. Stace, C. (1991) The New Flora of the British Isles. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
  4. UK BAP Species Action Plan (October, 2003)
  5. Preston, C.D., Pearman, D.A. and Dines, T.D. (2002) New Atlas of the British and Irish Flora. Oxford University Press, Oxford.