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© M. Halford
© Piqueray
© Piqueray
© M. Halford
© S. Vanderhoeven
© M. Halford

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Cotoneaster horizontalis


Common name: Rockspray
Origin: Asia
Plant type: Shrub • Climbing plant
Life cycle: Perennial
Code of conduct: Annex II
Invasive status (ISEIA protocol): Black list
Main ornemental function: Cover ground • Ornamental shrub


Shrub usually up to 50 cm tall, but individual up to 1m tall can be observed. Stoloniferous stems (stems that spread horizontally). Single flowers or grouped by 2, pink coloured. Flowering in May - June. Red fruits. Fructification in September -October. Used as ornemental ground cover.


C. horizontalis reproduces sexually by seeds and vegetatively (stem layering, sprouting). Production of a high number of fruits, very attractive for birds, which disperse seeds over long distances by defecation. Fruits observed on 3 years old individuals. Germination rate up to 30 %. Strong of lateral expansion with stem layering which generate new indivuals from a mother plant. Roots can penetrate deep into the rocks. It can cover ground surfaces of several m².


Dunes, rock outcrops, quarries, calcareous grasslands, with a preference to xerophilous sites. Also found in man-made habitats like walls, railway embankments and sand quarries.


Species classified A2 in Belgium. C. horizontalis can colonise habitat of high conservation value like coastal dunes and chalk grasslands. Due to its high spread potential and lateral expansion aptitudes, the species can negatively impact native flora. On chalk grasslands, the spread of C. horizontalis can alter the botanical composition and diversity of vegetal communities. On such habitats, attractive flowers of rocksprays can also cause diversion of pollinators. Mentionned as invasive in France, Germany, the United Kingdom. In Belgium, the species invades quarries (rock and sand quarries) and calcarous grasslands. Also found along the coast in Flanders. Other exotic cotoneaster species may be potentially invasive, especially C. damneri, C. dielsianus and C. integrifolius. For more information, click here


(1) Avoid planting this species near dry or rocky habitats (chalk grasslands, sandy grasslands, coastal dunes, rocky slopes, quarries), especially in the vicinity of protected areas (natural reserves, Natura 2000 sites, etc.) ; (2) cut the flowers at the end of flowering and before fructification in order to avoid seed dispersal.

Possible native alternatives

Main ornemental function

Cover ground
Ornamental shrub

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