Quick Facts

Quick facts

  • Originally from China, Large-leaved Cotoneaster (Cotoneaster glaucophyllus) is a multi-branched shrub or tree to 4 m tall and wide, with evergreen leaves to 8 cm long, and 3.5 cm wide, with heads of many small white flowers producing clusters of shinny red fruits 0.5–0.6 mm long.
  • Found in many older gardens, spread to bushlands, riparian habitats, roadsides and waste areas, in temperate regions of Australia.
  • The  abundant bright red 'berries' ripen during autumn and are dispersed mainly by birds.
  • When the highly viable seed are dispersed into native habitats, where they can form large dense stands that exclude native plant species and prevent regeneration.
  • It is tolerant to a wide range of environmental conditions (heat, drought, cold, wet, salinity).
  • Can be controlled by application of herbicides to cut or damaged actively growing stems.

What Does It Look Like?

What is it?

Large-leaved Cotoneaster (Cotoneaster glaucophyllus) is a semi-evergreen, upright or arching shrub or small tree growing from 1–5 m tall and wide. The stems can be numerous, often with several arising from near the base of the trunk. The leaves are oval (elliptical) or obovate (shaped like a section through the long axis of an egg with the wider end at the tip), 2–8 cm long and 1.5–4 cm wide, with entire margins (without teeth or lobes), with petioles (leaf-stalks) 0.4–1 cm long. The upper surface of the leaf is smooth and dark green, and the lower surface is generally pale greenish-grey and covered in white hairs that wear off over time, leaving a pale green or blue-green under-surface.

The white flowers are grouped in clusters  of 20–60, 2–10 cm wide  along the branches, Individual flowers are about 0.5 mm in diameter, on pedicels (flower stalks) 0.2–0.4 cm long . The flowers have 5 sepals (the green outer whorl of non-fertile part of the flower), and  are 5 white petals about 2.5 cm diameter, with about 20 stamens (male reproductive parts) surrounding the female styles 2, stigma that are capitate (club-shaped).

The mature fruits are shining red rounded to near rounded hard-fleshy 'berries' (pomes), 5–7 mm in diameter, flattened on the unattached end. Fruits contain 2 nutlets (seeds) about 4 mm long  (Harden & Rodd 2007; Jeanes & Jobson 1996; Muyt 2001; Navie 2004).

For further information and assistance with identification of Large-leaved Cotoneaster contact the herbarium in your state or territory.

Flower colour


Growth form (weed type/habit)

Tree, Shrub

Where it currently grows? Preferred habitat

Large-leaved Cotoneaster occurs most commonly in old gardens, open to dense woodlands, grasslands, coastal habitats, riparian habitats, roadsides and waste areas, and is predominantly in temperate regions of Australia and can tolerate hot, cold, dry, wet and salty conditions (Muyt 2001; Navie 2004; DPI NSW 2019).

Are there similar species?

Large-leaved Cotoneaster can be confused with several other Cotoneaster species occurring frequently in Australia. Franchet's Cotoneaster (C. franchetii), Silver-leaved Cotoneaster (C. pannosus), Milkflower Cotoneaster (C. coriaceus) [as C. lacteus] and Khasia Berry (C. symondsii) [as C. simonsii] are all similar (Navie 2004).

Large-leaved Cotoneaster can be distinguished from Franchet's Cotoneaster by its white flowers, bright red fruits usually containing 2 seeds, and larger leaves 20-80 mm long. Franchet's Cotoneaster has pink to pinkish-white flowers, orange-red fruits containing 3 seeds, and smaller leaves 20–35 mm long (Lu & Branch 2003; Navie 2004).

Large-leaved Cotoneaster can be separated from Silver-leaved Cotoneaster (C. pannosus) by its relatively large leaves 20–80 mm long, smooth and dark green upper leaf surface, and bright red and smooth fruits. Silver-leaved Cotoneaster has smaller leaves (10-40 mm long, greyish-green and somewhat hairy upper leaf surfaces, and dull and sometimes hairy fruits (Lu & Branch 2003; Navie 2004).

Large-leaved Cotoneaster is distinguished from Milkflower Cotoneaster (C. coriaceus)  by its smooth upper leaf surface, and lower leaf surface that becomes hairless with age. The leaves of the Milkflower Cotoneaster have distinctly indented veins on the upper surface, and a lower surface that remains hairy with age (Navie 2004).

Large-leaved Cotoneaster can be distinguished from Khasia Berry (C. symondsii) by its relative large leaves 20–80 mm long, smooth and hairless upper leaf surfaces, and highly clustered flowers, with 20–60 flowers. Khasia Berry has smaller leaves to 25 mm, upper leaf surfaces with a sparse covering of flattened hairs, and flowers occurring in clusters of 1–4 (Navie 2004; Baker 2007).

Cotoneaster species can also be confused with some Pyracantha (Firethorns) and Crataegus (Hawthorns) species. 

Pyracantha species can be distinguished by their stems that are armed with spines. 

Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) and Azarola (C. x sinaica) [as C. sinaica] can be distinguished by their deeply lobed and serrated leaves and thorns 5–25 mm long on the stems (Navie 2004).

Why Is It A Weed?

What are its impacts?

Large-leaved Cotoneaster grows in urban bushland and along roadsides. It is poisonous to people, dogs and livestock, and forms dense thickets under trees shading out local native species (DPI NSW 2019). The fruits is considered poisonous if ingested by humans, stock, and [domestic] dogs. 

Agriculture: Not a problem in pastures but if stock have access to the plant can cause animal poisoning. The fruit contains cyanogenic glycosides which turns to cyanide in the stomach. This can cause poisoning in some animals, especially ruminants e.g. cattle and sheep (DPI NSW 2019). This species can also act as a host for bacterial fireblight, a disease of orchards (Queensland Government 2016) and the species is susceptible to honey fungus and the beet aphid.

Native ecosystems: Large-leaved Cotoneaster produces abundant, highly viable seed that can be dispersed into native bushland or other native habitats. It grows vigorously and can form dense often in monocultures (stands composed of a single species), long lived stands that can displace native shrub species and prevent under-story and over-story growth and regeneration (Muyt 2001; Weedbusters 2004). This species is very tolerant to a range of environmental conditions, including damp, cold, saline and drought stressed environments, allowing it to be problematic in numerous areas (Sigg 2004; Weedbusters 2004).

Human impacts: The fruit of Large-leaved Cotoneaster are considered to be mildly toxic to poisonous to humans (Navie 2004). The fruit can cause gastroenteritis, but a large quantity would need to be eaten to have this effect, especially by children and children have become violently ill after eating berries The berries also contain another unidentified toxin which causes vomiting and diarrhea in dogs (DPI NSW 2019; Herbiguide 2021).

What to do if a person is poisoned:

  • If the patient is unconscious, unresponsive or having difficulty breathing dial 000 or get to the emergency section of a hospital immediately.
  • If the patient is conscious and responsive call the Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 26 or your doctor.
  • If going to a hospital take a piece of the plant for identification.

How does it spread?

Large-leaved Cotoneaster reproduces abundant bright berries containing highly viable seeds that are eaten by birds. Birds can disperse the seed long distances and by this means this species can invade undisturbed native habitats from garden plantings or other infested areas (Williams & Karl 1996). Large-leaved Cotoneaster can also be dispersed by other animals (e.g. foxes) or in dumped garden waste (Navie 2004). Suckering from the stems or branches can occur if the plant is cut down and the branches are in contact with the ground, and it can spread from cuttings in garden waste (Navie 2004).

What is its history in Australia?

The time of introduction of Large-leaved Cotoneaster into Australia is not known. It was most likely introduced as a garden ornamental (Groves & Hosking 1997). The first herbarium collections are from Queensland and New South Wales in 1953 (AVH 2021).

How To Manage It?

Best practice management

Non-chemical control: Smaller plants of Large-leaved Cotoneaster are easily removed by pulling. As seed germination can occur all year round, pulling of seedlings should be maintained throughout the year. The numerous seedlings compete vigorously with each other, therefore it may be more efficient to wait until most plant have been killed through sibling competition before pulling (Weedbusters 2004). Cleared sites should be replanted quickly with dense, low growing native shrubs to help prevent seedling regrowth (Weedbusters 2004). The carpet of seedlings that emerge, normally after removal of the mother plant(s) can be manually removed, smothered with mulch, or black plastic, or sprayed with herbicide.

Chemical control: Larger plants can be cut close to the ground and treated with herbicide to prevent re-shooting, preferably in summer-autumn just after fruiting (Muyt 2001). Frequent removal of shoots produced from the stump may be required (Sigg 2004). Plants can also be treated with drill and fill/stem injection method in spring or early summer, before fruit mature in early autumn with drilled holes or cuts made into the sapwood and filled with herbicide within 15 seconds of making the cut (Muyt 2001).  Cut stump method should be carried out just after fruiting in autumn with trunks/stems cut and  herbicide applied to the stump within 15 seconds of cutting. The carpets of seedlings cam be sprayed with herbicides, or larger plants with an application of foliar spray with penetrant.

Please see the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority for chemical information http://www.apvma.gov.au 

Does it have a biological control agent?


When does it grow? (lifecycle/growth calendar)

Large-leaved Cotoneaster flowers profusely in late spring and early summer, resulting in the production of thousands of fruits, which mature mostly in early autumn (Muyt 2001).

Where Is It Found?

Which states and territories is it found?


What areas within states and territories is it found?

Large-leaved Cotoneaster occurs mainly in and around populated areas in south-eastern temperate areas of Australia (Muyt 2001, Navie 2004). 

In New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory it is widely cultivated, and occasionally naturalised in the Central Coast and Central Tablelands regions (Harden & Robb 2007). 

In Victoria it has become naturalised in bushland in a number of cooler areas of the state (Bogong Village, near Casterton, and the Dandenong Ranges) (Jeanes & Jobson 1996). 

In South Australia it occurs in and around Adelaide and in south-eastern parts of the state and at the southern tip of Eyre Peninsula .

 It occurs in south-western Western Australia along roadsides from Busselton to Albany (Western Australian Herbarium 1998-). 

It is scattered around Tasmania and also occasional in south-eastern Queensland (Navie 2004; AVH 2021).

Where does it originate?

Large-leaved Cotoneaster is endemic to south-western China (Guangxi, Guizhou, Sichuan, and Yunnan Provinces) (Lu & Branch 2002). It is naturalised in temperate areas in Australia and New Zealand, the UK, Argentina and the US (GRIN 2007; POWO 2021).

National And State Weed Listings

Is it a Weed of National Significance (WONS)?


Where is it a declared weed?


Government weed strategies and lists – Weeds Australia

Is it on the National Alert List for Environmental Weeds?


Government weed strategies and lists – Weeds Australia

Is it on the Agricultural Sleeper List?


Government weed strategies and lists – Weeds Australia

Names And Taxonomy

Main scientific name

Cotoneaster glaucophyllus

Other scientific names (synonyms)?

  • Cotoneaster glaucophylla Franch. (incorrect spelling)
  • Cotoneaster glaucophyllus f. serotinus (Hutch.) Stapf
  • Cotoneaster glaucophyllus var. serotinus (Hutch.) L.T.Lu & Brach
  • Cotoneaster serotinus Hutch.

Does it have other known common name(s)?

Broad-leaved Cotoneaster, Grey Leaf Cotoneaste, Grey Cotoneaster, Bright Bead Cotoneaster

Blackberry – a community-driven approach in Victoria

Blackberry the weed (Rubus fruticosus aggregate) was first introduced to Australia by European settlers in the mid-1800s as a fruit. It was recognised as a weed by mid-1880s. Blackberry is a serious issue across Australia. It is estimated that blackberry infests approximately 8.8 million hectares of land at an estimated cost of $103 million in annual control and production losses.

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