Invasive Alien Species in Northern Ireland

Cotoneaster integrifolius, Small-leaved Cotoneaster

Cotoneaster integrifolius
© John Wilde
Cotoneaster integrifolius
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Cotoneaster integrifolius (Roxb.) Klotz, Lindley, auct. non Wallich ex Lindley
Small-leaved cotoneaster, also called rockspray or entire-leaved cotoneaster, is a once-common garden shrub which has now become naturalised and established in many wild situations.
A low-growing or prostrate evergreen shrub producing numerous small white flowers which are followed by bright red fleshy berries containing two or more hard stones. The leathery leaves are c. 7mm long, oval with a notch at the tips, dark green and shiny.
Country of origin
Location in Ireland
In many places, especially rock exposures in quarries, on crags, or on masonry. There is an extensive colony on crags on Garron Head high above Garron Tower, County Antrim.
Life cycle
Flowers are produced in May - June; berries mature September - October. The berries are eaten by birds and the stone passes through the gut.
Wildlife and habitat impacts
There is probably little or no impact on animal life. The major effect is shading-out of other vegetation, but this is not generally significant, except at Knockninny and Belmore Mountain in County Fermanagh. At these localities the spread of this species is said to be reducing available habitats for the rare and local dense-flowered orchid (Neotinea maculate).
Key vectors
The stones, containing the seeds, are bird-sown, and readily germinate.
What you can do as an individual
Report any occurrence in the wild to CEDaR or The Botanical Society of the British Isles (BSBI).
Management measures
In most instances this species poses no problems and no management is necessary except control by physical removal or cutting-back. Where spread is deemed to be damaging the habitat, probably the only realistic form of control is by repeatedly cutting-back, digging up or ripping up the plants, and weeding out seedlings.
Further information
Text written by:
Paul Hackney, Keeper of Botany, Ulster Museum