Waxwing feeding on Cotoneaster berries in supermarket car park

Waxwing feeding on cotoneaster berries in supermarket car park by Terry Whittaker/2020VISION


Scientific name: Cotoneaster horizontalis
Cotoneaster was introduced to the UK in 1879 from Eastern Asia as an ornamental plant. It is now an invasive non-native species which is taking over valuable habitats including limestone grasslands.

Species information


Statistics Height: up to 50cm

Conservation status

Invasive non-native species

When to see

May to September


Invasive cotoneaster was introduced to the UK from Eastern Asia in the 19th century as a garden plant. Since this time, it has smothered valuable landscapes including limestone grasslands and outcompeted many native species. Cotoneaster berries are easily dispersed by birds contributing to its widespread distribution. Many organisations, including Wildlife Trusts, are committed to the removal of this invasive plant in order to allow our native wildlife to thrive.

Cotoneaster horizontalis is listed on Schedule 9 of the UK Wildlife & Countryside Act as an invasive species. This does not mean you cannot grow it in your garden but we encourage gardeners to think carefully about its potential impact on wildlife and to consider alternatives.

How to identify

Cotoneaster horizontalis is a deciduous shrub with small, simple, waxy leaves. It has clusters of small white or pink flowers in late spring and early summer, followed by showy red berries. It can be very difficult to identify cotoneaster to a species level as they look very similar to each other for example hollyberry cotoneaster and small leaved cotoneaster.



Did you know?

In addition to the non-native garden cotoneasters there is also a critically endangered native wild cotoneaster known as the Great Orme berry (Cotoneaster cambricus).

How people can help

Use wildlife friendly plants as an alternative to cotoneaster. Blackthorn, holly and wild privet are all great replacements offering shelter, food and nesting sites for wild creatures.