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Anthony's Keys | Family List | Rosaceae

Cotoneaster Medikus, Philos. Bot. 1: 154. 1789.

Anthony R. Brach

Missouri Botanical Garden c/o Harvard University Herbaria

Shrubs, rarely small trees, erect, decumbent, or prostrate, deciduous, semi-evergreen, or evergreen. Branchlets mostly terete, rarely slightly angulate, unarmed. Winter buds small; scales several, imbricate, exposed. Leaves alternate, papery or leathery, simple, shortly petiolate; stipules caducous, usually subulate, small; margin of leaf blade entire, venation camptodromous. Inflorescences terminal or axillary, corymbose or cymose, sometimes flowers several fascicled or solitary. Hypanthium turbinate or campanulate, rarely cylindric, adnate to ovary. Sepals 5, persistent, short. Petals 5, erect or spreading, imbricate in bud, white, pink, or red. Stamens 10–20(–22), inserted in mouth of hypanthium. Ovary inferior or semi-inferior, 2–5-loculed; carpels 2–5, connate abaxially, free adaxially; ovules 2 per carpel, erect; styles 2–5, free; stigmas dilated. Fruit a pome, red, brownish red, or orange to black, with persistent, incurved, fleshy sepals, containing nutlets; nutlets (1 or)2–5, bony, 1-seeded; seeds compressed; cotyledons plano-convex. X = 17.

About 50–70 species in the broad sense (see Dickoré & Kasperek. In Press.) to ca. 400 species (see J. Fryer & B. Hylmö. 2009); widespread in temperate and subtropical N. Africa, Asia (except Japan), and Europe, most abundant in S.W. China; 13 species in Nepal.

The shrubs are widely planted as ornamentals for their attractive foliage and fruits, and abundant flowers, and as borders, hedges, and ground cover; several naturalizing and invading elsewhere (see Dickoré & Kasperek. In Press.). The taxonomy of this genus is complicated by hybridization and apomixis.

Dickoré, W. B. & G. Kasperek. In Press. Species of Cotoneaster (Rosaceae, Maloideae) indigenous to, naturalizing or commonly cultivated in Central Europe. Willdenowia (vol. 40).

Fryer, J. & B. Hylmö. 2009. Cotoneasters: a comprehensive guide to shrubs for flowers, fruit, and foliage. Timber Press. Portland, OR, USA & London, UK.

Grierson, A. J. C. 1987. Cotoneaster L. (pp. 588–591). In A. J. C. Grierson and D. G. Long, Flora of Bhutan, Including a Record of Plants from Sikkim, Vol. 1, Part 3. Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh.

Hara, H., H. Ohashi & G. Murata. 1966. Rosaceae (pp. 118–135) in H. Hara (ed.). Flora of Eastern Himalaya. University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan.

Hara, H., H. Ohashi & G. Murata. 1971. Rosaceae (pp. 49–61) in H. Hara (ed.). Flora of Eastern Himalaya, University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan.

Lu, L. T. & A. R. Brach. 2003. Cotoneaster (pp. 85–108) in Wu Z. Y., P. H. Raven & D. Y. Hong (eds.). Flora of China. Vol. 9. Science Press, Beijing, China & Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, USA.

Yü, T. T. & L. T. Lu. 1974. Cotoneaster (pp. 107–178) in Yü T. T., ed. Fl. Reipubl. Popularis Sin. Vol. 36. Science Press, Beijing, China.


The author thanks W. Bernhard Dickoré (M) & Gerwin Kasperek (FR) for their helpful review comments.

1 Inflorescences compact compound corymbs, more than 20-flowered; petals white, spreading; leaves large, more than 2.5 cm.   (2)
+ Inflorescences lax corymbs, fewer than 20-flowered, sometimes reduced to a solitary flower; petals either erect and pink or red, or spreading and white; leaves often smaller than 2.5 cm.   (3)
2 (1) Leaf blade oblong, to 8(–12) cm; branchlets purplish brown or grayish brown.   1 Cotoneaster frigidus
+ Leaf blade ovate or obovate, to 5(–8) cm; branchlets reddish brown.   2 Cotoneaster affinis
3 (1) Leaf blade longer than 2 cm, rarely slightly shorter.   (4)
+ Leaf blade often less than 2 cm, rarely slightly longer.   (7)
4 (3) Leaves subleathery; flowers 9–10 mm in diam.   4 Cotoneaster hebephyllus
+ Leaves papery; flowers 6–9 mm in diam.   (5)
5 (4) Inflorescence with 3–20 flowers; leaf blade oblong to elliptic or ovate, abaxially white tomentose, adaxially glabrous or slightly pilose; petals spreading.   3 Cotoneaster racemiflorus
+ Inflorescence with 1–5 flowers; leaf blade elliptic to ovate-lanceolate, both surfaces pubescent, or adaxially sparsely so; petals erect.   (6)
6 (5) Flowers 1 or 2; petiole 5–7 mm, leaf blade ovate to lanceolate, to 6.5(–8) cm, both surfaces villous or pilose, apex long acuminate to acute; petals white or pink, rarely red.   12 Cotoneaster acuminatus
+ Flowers 3–6; petiole 3–5 mm, leaf blade broadly elliptic to suborbicular, to 2.5(–3) cm, both surfaces strigose-tomentose, adaxially sparsely so or subglabrous, apex acute to acuminate; petals dark red.   10 Cotoneaster symondsii
7 (3) Petals spreading, white or pinkish or tinged red; prostrate or low evergreen shrub.   (8)
+ Petals erect, red, rarely pink or white; prostrate, spreading, or erect, deciduous or semi-evergreen shrub.   (12)
8 (7) Leaf blade suborbicular or broadly ovate, base broadly cuneate to rounded; flowers 1–3.   8 Cotoneaster rotundifolius
+ Leaf blade elliptic, oblong or obovate to oblong-obovate, rarely oblanceolate, base cuneate to obtuse; flowers 1–12.   (9)
9 (8) Flowers 1–5; leaf blade 4–10 mm.   (10)
+ Flowers 3–12; leaf blade 6–30 mm.   4 Cotoneaster hebephyllus
10 (9) Small shrub, rigid, semi-evergreen; branchlets grayish brown or brown; leaf blade not shiny adaxially, papery or thinly leathery; flowers 3–5(–9).   5 Cotoneaster buxifolius
+ Prostrate shrub or carpet, flexuous, evergreen; branchlets black, brown, red, green, or purple; leaf blade shiny adaxially, leathery; flowers 1(–3).   (11)
11 (10) Prostrate shrub, with irregular branching; leaf blade margin plane, apex obtuse or ± retuse, rarely acute, abaxially glabrous or glabrescent.   6 Cotoneaster microphyllus
+ Low or dwarf shrub, divaricate or squarrose, with regular branching; leaf blade margin ± revolute, apex obtuse, acute, or acuminate, abaxially tomentose, pubescent or glabrescent.   7 Cotoneaster integrifolius
12 (7) Prostrate dwarf shrub.   11 Cotoneaster adpressus
+ Erect shrub.   (13)
13 (12) Stems irregularly branched; leaf blade ovate to elliptic, both surfaces pubescent, sometimes adaxially sparsely so; petals red or pink.   (14)
+ Stems ± distichously branched; leaf blade ovate or obovate to suborbicular, both surfaces appressed pubescent; petals white, pink, or stained reddish.   (15)
14 (13) Flowers 1 or 2; petiole 5–7 mm, leaf blade ovate to lanceolate, both surfaces villous or pilose, apex long acuminate to acute; petals white or pink, rarely red; shrub deciduous.   12 Cotoneaster acuminatus
+ Flowers 3–6; petiole 3–5 mm, leaf blade broadly elliptic to suborbicular, both surfaces strigose-pilose, or adaxially becoming subglabrous, apex acute to acuminate; petals red; shrub deciduous or semi-evergreen.   10 Cotoneaster symondsii
15 (13) Branchlets strigose, glabrescent, not verruculose; leaf apically acute and mucronate or obtuse; flowers 2–6.   9 Cotoneaster nitidus
+ Branchlets conspicuously verruculose; leaf apically emarginate or partly mucronulate; flowers solitary.   13 Cotoneaster verruculosus

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