Quick Facts

Quick facts

  • Franchet's Cotoneaster (Cotoneaster franchetii) is multi-branched shrub or tree to 3 m tall, leaves 2–3.5 cm long, 1–1.5 cm wide, pinkish flowers in cluster of 15, and small rounded to oval res ruit to 1 cm long
  • found in gardens, a weed of bushlands, riparian habitats, roadsides and waste areas, in temperate regions of Australia.
  • It produces abundant bright orange-red 'berries' during autumn that are dispersed mainly by birds.
  • The highly viable seed are dispersed into native habitats, where they can form large monotypic stands that exclude native plant species and prevent regeneration.
  • It is tolerant is a wide range of environmental conditions (heat, drought, cold, wet, salinity).
  • Can be controlled by mechanical means and herbicides normally applied to cut stems.

What Does It Look Like?

What is it?

Franchet's Cotoneaster (Cotoneaster franchetii) is an upright or arching shrub or small tree growing from 1–3 m in height, occasionally up to 5 m. It loses some of its leaves in winter (i.e. it is semi-deciduous). The stems are upright, and become spreading or arching as the plant matures. The leaves are elliptical (oval), or ovate (aped like a section through the long axis of an egg and attached by the wider end), 2–3 cm long, with entire (without teeth or lobes) margins, with petioles (leaf-stalks) 1–4 mm long. The upper leaf surface is usually green, hairless to hairy and shiny, the lower leaf surface is whitish and densely covered in felty hairs.

The pinkish flowers form clusters of 5–15 flowers along the branches. The flowers are 5-petalled, 6–7 mm in diameter, with stalks (pedicels) 2-4 mm long. The fruits are somewhat rounded (ovoid-globose) and fleshy 'berries' (pomes), 5–10 mm across, initially hairy, but become hairless and orange-red or pinkish-orange as they mature. Each fruit contains three small 'seeds' (nutlets) (Lu & Branch 2003; Navie 2004).

For further information and assistance with identification of Franchet's Cotoneaster contact the herbarium in your state or territory.

Flower colour


Growth form (weed type/habit)

Tree, Shrub

Where it currently grows? Preferred habitat

Franchet's Cotoneaster is found in temperate areas of south-eastern Australia in bushland, open woodland, forest margins, riparian habitats, roadsides and waste areas (Navie 2004).

Are there similar species?

Franchet's Cotoneaster can be confused with several other Cotoneaster species occurring frequently in Australia. Large-leaved Cotoneaster (C. glaucophyllus), 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).

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

Franchet's Cotoneaster is separated from Silver-leaved Cotoneaster by its pink to pinkish-white flowers and smooth fruits that contain 3 seeds. Silver-leaved Cotoneaster has white flowers, and dull and sometimes hairy fruits that contain 2 seeds (Lu & Branch 2003; Navie 2004).

Franchet's Cotoneaster is distinguished from Milkflower Cotoneaster by its pink to pinkish-white flowers, and its smooth and relatively small leaves 20-35 mm long. Milkflower Cotoneaster has milky white flowers and leaves that have distinctly indented veins on the upper surface (Navie 2004).

Franchet's Cotoneaster differs from Khasia Berry by its upper leaf surface that is generally shining and hairless with age, and highly clustered flowers with 20-60 flowers. Khasia Berry has 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 have stems that are armed with spines. Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) and Azarola (C. x sinaica) [as C. sinaica] is distinguished by its deeply lobed and serrated leaves, and thorns which are 5-25 mm long, on the stems (Navie 2004).

Why Is It A Weed?

What are its impacts?

Native ecosystems: Franchet's Cotoneaster produces abundant, highly viable seed that can be dispersed into native bushland or other native habitats. It grows vigorously and can form dense, long lived stands that displace native shrub species and prevent understory and overstory regeneration. 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).

Agriculture:  Due to the presence of hydrocyanic acid in some Crataegus species, it is potentially hazardous to grazing stock (Parsons & Cuthbertson 2001).  In the British Isles, Crataegus species are an important reservoir of the fire blight bacterium which affects pears and apples. Azzarola also is known to host Mediterranean fruit fly and light brown apple moth (Government of South Australia 2021). It is assumed that this could have similar or worse impacts as Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna). Please see that profile for more details.  

Human impacts: The fruit are considered poisonous to humans (Navie 2004).

How does it spread?

Franchet's Cotoneaster reproduces by 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). It can also be dispersed by animals such as foxes, and by seed in dumped garden waste (Muyt 2001). 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?

Franchet's Cotoneaster was introduced into Australia as an ornamental. It was first recorded for New South Wales in 1984 (from a specimen listed as a new record for this state). It was first recorded as naturalised in Tasmania by 1985 and in Victoria by 1995 (Groves & Hosking 1997).

How To Manage It?

Best practice management

Non-chemical control: Smaller plants of Franchet's Cotoneaster are easily removed by pulling. As seed germination can occur all year round, pulling out of seedlings should be maintained throughout the year. The numerous seedlings compete vigorously; therefore it may be more efficient to wait until most plants have been killed through sibling competition before pulling. Seedlings and small plants with new growth can be sprayed with non-selective or selective herbicides (Muyt 2001).

Chemical control: Larger plants can be cut close to the ground and treated with herbicide to prevent re-shooting, preferably in summer to autumn just after fruiting (Muyt 2001). Frequent removal of shoots produced from the stump may be required (Sigg 2004). Cleared sites should be replanted quickly with dense, low growing native shrubs to help prevent seedling regrowth (Weedbusters 2004). Plants can also be treated with drill and fill chemical methods in spring or early summer, before fruit ripening (Muyt 2001).

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)

Franchet's Cotoneaster produces flowers during spring and summer, followed by abundant fruit production in autumn. The mature fruit are able to persist through winter, with seeds able to germinate year-round. Cotoneasters are apomictic (i.e. they can produce viable seed without fertilisation) and are therefore able to self-sow abundantly (Sigg 2004).

Where Is It Found?

Which states and territories is it found?


What areas within states and territories is it found?

Franchet's Cotoneaster has escaped gardens and become naturalised near populated areas mainly in south-eastern Australia. In Victoria it is widely cultivated and is currently known to be naturalised near The Basin in the Dandenong ranges, but may be naturalised more widely (Jeanes & Jobson 1996). It also occurs sporadically in south-eastern New South Wales (Northern and Southern Tablelands), Tasmania (Huon River) and it has been recorded from south-eastern Queensland (Harden & Rodd 1990; Navie 2004). NOt yet recorded as a weed in South Australia or Western Australia (AVH 2021).

Where does it originate?

Franchet's Cotoneaster is native to temperate and tropical regions of China and Indo-china (Myanmar and Thailand) (Lu & Branch 2003; GRIN 2007). It has become naturalised in some western states in the United States of America (USDA 2007).

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 franchetii

Other scientific names (synonyms)?


Does it have other known common name(s)?

Grey Cotoneaster, Orange Cotoneaster, Silverleaf Cotoneaster, Rockspray Cotoneaster

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