milk-flower cotoneaster

Cotoneaster coriaceus
Shrub
Alternate
Simple
White
Green

An upright or arching shrub (1-3 m tall) with younger stems that are densely covered in yellowish hairs. Its leaves (20-45 mm long and 12-28 mm wide) have dark green upper surfaces with indented veins. The leaf undersides are densely hairy and somewhat yellowish in appearance. Its small white flowers (4-5 mm across) are borne in dense clusters and each flower has five spreading petals. Its small red 'berries' (4-6 mm long) are egg-shaped and contain two hard seeds.

Common names 
Also known as: cotoneaster, late cotoneaster, milkflower cotoneaster, Parney cotoneaster, Parney's cotoneaster,
Family 
Rosaceae
Deciduous 
No
Flowering time 
Spring - Summer
Native/Exotic 
Exotic
Origin 
Native to China.
Notifiable 
No
Council declaration 
SIL – Special Investigation List
Known distribution 

Naturalised in some of the cooler regions of south-eastern and eastern Australia (i.e. in the sub-coastal districts of south-eastern Queensland, on the tablelands of northern New South Wales, in the ACT, and in south-eastern South Australia). Possibly also naturalised in Tasmania.

Habitat 

A weed of urban bushland, open woodlands, forest margins, riparian vegetation, roadsides, railway lines, disturbed sites and waste areas.

Habit 

An upright (i.e. erect) or arching shrub usually growing 1-3 m tall.

Impact and control methods 

"Milk-flower cotoneaster (Cotoneaster coriaceus) has escaped from cultivation as a garden ornamental and is a minor environmental weed in the cooler parts of south-eastern Queensland. Like other cotoneasters (i.e. Cotoneaster spp.), it is capable of forming dense thickets under trees and displacing local native plant species.

This species is a more serious environmental weed in the temperate regions of Australia (i.e. particularly in New South Wales and the ACT)."

Stem and leaves 

"The stems grow in a somewhat spreading and arching nature as the plant matures. Young stems are round in cross-section and densely covered in yellowish coloured hairs (i.e. tomentose). Older stems and branches are greyish-brown or purplish-brown and hairless (i.e. glabrous).

The alternately arranged leaves (20-45 mm long and 12-28 mm wide) and borne on hairy stalks (i.e. tomentose petioles) 4-8 mm long. They are egg-shaped in outline (i.e. obovate) or oval (i.e. elliptic) in shape, with entire margins and pointed or rounded tips (i.e. acute or obtuse apices). These leaves are leathery in nature with main veins that are obviously indented. Their upper surfaces are dark green and hairless (i.e. glabrous), while their undersides are densely covered in yellowish hairs (i.e. tomentose)."

Flowers and fruits 

"The small white flowers (4-5 mm across) are borne in dense clusters (i.e. corymbs) along the branches, each cluster (3-7 cm across) containing numerous flowers. These flowers have five spreading, white, petals (2.5-3.5 mm long) and are borne on hairy stalks (i.e. tomentose pedicels) 1-2 mm long. They also have five tiny sepals (1.5-2 mm long), numerous stamens topped with purplish-red anthers, and two styles. Flowering occurs mostly during spring and early summer.

The small egg-shaped fruit (i.e. obovoid pomes) turn from green to bright or dark red as they mature. These fruit (4-6 mm long and 4-5 mm wide) usually contain two hard 'seeds' (i.e. nutlets or pyrenes). Mature fruit are present during later summer and autumn."

Reproduction and dispersal 

This plant reproduces by seed, which are commonly spread by birds that eat the brightly coloured fruit. The seeds are also dispersed in dumped garden waste and if plants are cut down they will produce suckers from the base (i.e. crown).

Similar species 

"Milk-flower cotoneaster (Cotoneaster coriaceus) is very similar to large-leaved cotoneaster (Cotoneaster glaucophyllus), grey cotoneaster (Cotoneaster franchetii) and silver-leaved cotoneaster (Cotoneaster pannosus ). These species can be distinguished by the following differences:

■milk-flower cotoneaster (Cotoneaster coriaceus) has relatively large leaves (up to 75 mm long) with shiny dark green and mostly hairless (i.e. glabrous) upper surfaces that have prominent veins impressed into them. The lower surface of the leaves are whitish in colour and densely hairy (i.e. pubescent). The milky white flowers are borne in medium-sized clusters and its fruit turn orange-red or red in colour as they mature.

■large-leaved cotoneaster (Cotoneaster glaucophyllus) has relatively large leaves (20-80 mm long) with upper surfaces that are smooth and dark green in colour. The lower surface of the leaves are initially greyish-green and covered in whitish hairs (i.e. they are pubescent) but these hairs often wear off as the leaves mature, leaving pale green or slightly bluish-green and hairless (i.e. glabrous) undersides. The white flowers have spreading petals and are usually borne in large clusters (usually with 20-60 flowers). Its relatively glossy fruit turn bright red as they mature and usually contain two 'seeds' (i.e. pyrenes).

■silver-leaved cotoneaster (Cotoneaster pannosus ) has relatively small leaves (10-40 mm long) with dull greyish-green upper surfaces that are somewhat hairy (i.e. pubescent). The lower surface of the leaves are silvery or whitish and densely hairy (i.e. pubescent). The white flowers have spreading petals and are borne in medium-sized clusters (usually with 6-20 flowers). Its relatively dull and sometimes hairy fruit turn red as they mature and usually contain two 'seeds' (i.e. pyrenes).

■grey cotoneaster (Cotoneaster franchetii) has relatively small leaves (20-35 mm long) with greyish-green upper surfaces that are somewhat hairy (i.e. pubescent) when they are young, but become hairless (i.e. glabrous) and shiny in appearance as they mature. The lower surface of the leaves are silvery or whitish in colour and densely hairy (i.e. pubescent). The pink or pinkish-white flowers have relatively upright (i.e. erect) petals and are borne in medium-sized clusters (usually with 5-15 flowers). Its fruit turn orange or pinkish-orange as they mature and usually contain three 'seeds' (i.e. pyrenes).
Silver-leaved cotoneaster (Cotoneaster pannosus ) is also relatively similar to the firethorns (Pyracantha spp.) and the hawthorns (Crataegus spp.). However, the firethorns (Pyracantha spp.) have stems that are armed with spines and the hawthorns (Crataegus spp.) have deeply lobed leaves that are also often coarsely toothed (i.e. serrate) towards their tips and stems that are also armed with stout thorns."