Quick Facts

Quick facts

  • Originally from the to the Himalayas and South East Asia, Himalayan Cotoneaster (Cotoneaster simonsii) is an erect to arching, multi-branched shrub, growing to 4 m tall, with small leaves 3 cm long, white to pale pink flowers in clusters of 1–5, and bright red to orange-red, fruit 5–10 mm long.
  • A weed of roadsides and native bushland invading intact areas.
  • The numerous fruits with highly viable seeds are eaten and dispersed by birds, possibly introduced [pest] birds, and spread in garden waste.
  • It is long-lived and matures quickly forming large stands that cover and replace native shrub species, and prevent native plant regeneration.
  • It can tolerant a wide variety of conditions including damp and drought, cold, shade, and a range of soils.
  • Can be controlled by application of herbicides too cut or damaged actively growing stems.

What Does It Look Like?

What is it?

Himalayan cotoneaster (Cotoneaster simonsii) is an erect, sometimes arching, winter deciduous rarely semi-evergreen shrub, growing to 3 metres tall and wide sometimes to 4 m tall. Deciduous leaves produce autumn colour with leaves turning partially yellow and red in autumn-early winter and then falling. The leaves are up to 3 cm long, oval (ovoid) to ovate-elliptical, with an acute to apiculate (coming to a point) apex, and with generally uneven rounded bases. The leaves are somewhat clustered on the short shoots. The upper leaf surfaces are dark green and glossy, with a sparse covering of flattened (appressed) hairs, while the lower surfaces are a paler greyish-green and also sparsely hairy (pubescent).

The white to pale pink flowers occur in clusters of 2–3 sometimes up to 5 along the branches, occasionally solitary. Individual flowers or borne on pedicels (flower-stalks) 1–3 mm long, with calyx lobes (individual sepals) about 2.5 mm long, triangular and pointed. The flowering petals 3–5 mm long and wide, shortly clawed, pink. Stamens (male reproductive parts) about 20 per flower. Styles (female reproductive parts) 2.5–3 mm long.

The fruit are bright red to orange-red, approximately 5–10 mm long, obovoid (inverted egg-shaped attached at the widest end), and contain 3–4 nutlets (pyrenes) 5 mm long (Navie 2004; Roy et al. 2004; Baker 2007).

For further information and assistance with identification of Khasia Berry contact the herbarium in your state or territory.

Flower colour

White, Pink

Growth form (weed type/habit)


Where it currently grows? Preferred habitat

Himalayan Cotoneaster is found in bushland, wasteland, forest margins, open woodland, river banks, roadsides and plantations, mainly in temperate regions (Navie 2004; Roy et al. 2004; Baker 2007). It is tolerant of damp and drought, cold, and a range of soil types and is also semi-shade-tolerant (Auckland Regional Council 2007).

Are there similar species?

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

Himalayan Cotoneaster can be distinguished from Franchet's Cotoneaster by its upper leaf surfaces that are bright green and glossy, and flower clusters that contain 1-5 flowers. Franchet's Cotoneaster has upper leaf surfaces that are greyish-green, and flowers in clusters of 5-15 (Navie 2004).

Himalayan Cotoneastercan be separated from Large-leaved Cotoneaster by its smaller leaves to 2.5 cm long and small flower clusters, with only 1–5 flowers. Large-leaved Cotoneaster has longer leaves, 2–8 cm long, and flowers in large clusters of 20–60 flowers (Navie 2004; Baker 2007).

Himalayan Cotoneaster differs from Milkflower Cotoneaster by its smaller leaves to 2.5 cm long. Milkflower Cotoneaster has larger leaves to 7 cm, and also differs by having leaf veins that are distinctly impressed into the upper leaf surface (Navie 2004).

Himalayan Cotoneaster is separated from Silver-leaved Cotoneaster by its bright green and glossy upper leaf surfaces and lower surfaces that are sparsely hairy. Silver-leaved Cotoneaster has upper leaf surfaces that are dull-greyish green and lower surfaces that are whitish and densely hairy (Navie 2004).

Himalayan cotoneaster can be distinguished from Willow-leaved Cotoneaster by its shorter and oval to oval-elliptical leaves to 2.5 cm long. Willow-leaved Cotoneaster has elongated spearhead or narrow-elliptical shaped leaves 4–8.5 cm long that have veins distinctly impressed on the upper surface (Lu & Branch 2003; Navie 2004).

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?

Himalayan Cotoneaster grows in urban bushland and along roadsides grasslands, open woodlands, forest margins, waterways, roadsides, railway lines, disturbed sites and waste areas in temperate and sub-tropical regions. The fruits of closely related Large-leaved Cotoneaster (Cotoneaster glaucophyllus) are poisonous and fruits of Himalayan Cotoneaster may also be 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 may contain 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 may also act as a host for bacterial fireblight, a disease of orchards (Queensland Government 2016) and the species may also be susceptible to honey fungus and the beet aphid.

Native ecosystems: Himalayan Cotoneaster can be a significant weed of native bushland areas, and can form the understorey in open woodlands and forest margins  forming dense thickets. It can displace native species and alter plant community composition through water, light, and space competition (Auckland Regional Council 2007). The abundant seedlings compete strongly with native plants, and with each other, due to their rapid growth and competitive root system (Sigg 2004). The berries may encourage and support pest bird species such as starlings, blackbirds and sparrows (Tamar Valley Weeds Strategy 2008).

Human impacts: As the fruits of the closely related species, Large-leaved Cotoneaster (Cotoneaster glaucophyllus) are  poisonous to humans (Navie 2004) and Himalayan Cotoneaster may poses similar effects on humans and animals. The fruit of Large-leaved Cotoneaster 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 of 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?

Himalayan Cotoneaster spreads via seed and produces conspicuous red fruit that are eaten by birds, facilitating their spread from cultivation or where they are already weedy (Baker 2007; Hosking et al. 2007). It is considered to be one of the most invasive of the four Cotoneaster species found in Tasmania (Baker 2007). The fruit can also be transported in garden waste or soil (Navie 2004; Auckland Regional Council 2007). It can also produce roots from branches that are in constant contact with the ground (Navie 2004).

What is its history in Australia?

Himalayan Cotoneaster was introduced into Australia as an ornamental garden plant due to its hardiness and showy display of red berries during autumn and winter. It was first recorded as a garden escape in South Australia in 1957 (AVH 2021) and in Tasmania in 1985 (Baker 2007).

How To Manage It?

Best practice management

Non-chemical control: As for other Cotoneaster species smaller plants of Himalayan Cotoneaster can be controlled by pulling and mulching, smothered with mulch, or black plastic, or sprayed with herbicide(Auckland Regional Council 2007). Since seed germination can occur all year round, pulling of seedlings should be maintained throughout the year. The numerous seedlings compete vigorously with each other and therefore it may be more efficient to wait until most plants have been killed through sibling competition before pulling (Muyt 2001; Auckland Regional Council 2007). 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).

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). 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)

Himalayan Cotoneaster produces flowers during late spring and early summer, followed by abundant fruit production in autumn. The mature fruit are able to persist through winter (Sigg 2004). Seeds are able to germinate year-round. Cotoneaster species are apomictic (i.e. they can produce viable seed without fertilisation), and are therefore able to self-sow abundantly (Sigg 2004). It is very long-lived and matures quickly, and with highly viable seed (Auckland Regional Council 2007).

Where Is It Found?

Which states and territories is it found?


What areas within states and territories is it found?

Himalayan Cotoneaster is sparsely naturalised in the Australian Capital Territory, Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia in the Adelaide Hills only (Navie 2004; Hosking et al. 2007; AVH 2021). In Tasmania, it is most common on the West Coast, occurring in a wide range of habitats, but has also been recorded in the Midlands, North-West and East Coast (Baker 2007). It has also been recorded in New South Wales (Navie 2004). Himalayan Cotoneaster is also widely naturalised on the north and south islands of New Zealand (Hosking et al. 2007). 

Where does it originate?

Himalayan Cotoneaster is native to the Himalayas (areas of India, Bhutan, Nepal) and in south-east Asia (Navie 2004; Hosking et al. 2007). It is also naturalised in Europe, New Zealand and western United States (GRIN 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 simonsii 

Other scientific names (synonyms)?

  • Cotoneaster simonsii Baker (incorrect spelling)
  • Cotoneaster symonsii Baker (incorrect spelling)
  • Cotoneaster symondsii 

Does it have other known common name(s)?

Khasia Berry, Himalayan Cotoneaster, Simons' Cotoneaster 

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