T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network


Cotoneaster lacteus (Parney Cotoneaster)

Kingdom: Plantae
(Unranked): Angiosperms
(Unranked): Eudicots
Order: Rosales
Family: Rosaceae
Subfamily: Amygdaloideae
Tribe: Maleae
Subtribe:    Malinae
Genus: Cotoneaster
Species: Cotoneaster lacteus
Common names: Parney Cotoneaster, Milkflower Cotoneaster, Red Clusterberry, Cotoneaster parneyi

Cotoneaster lacteus originates from southwestern China. It is an evergreen shrub with branches arched and drooping growing to 5 metre tall 4 metre wide.  The density of the bush can differ greatly as well. One shrub might be very sparse with only a few branches, where as another may be extremely dense and opaque to the human eye.

The shrub develops clusters of attractive white flowers with 5 petals in branched cymes (an arrangement of flowers in a plant inflorescence) at branch ends followed by long-lasting, brilliant red berries.  The flower clusters can measure 150 mm or more across. The flowers are hermaphrodites. These flowers are usually pollinated by flies, insects and midges. After they bloom, the seeds ripen and produce a small, red fruit which persist until winter. This fruit is not tasty, but is useful in making some red dyes. The fruit contains five seeds.

The leaves are matt dark-green each 50mm long with a median furrow well marked and one end slightly pointed. The oval leaf has a grey woolly underside, which gives the illusion of frosting at the edges this unique adaptation of a cotton-like texture on the bottom of the leaves that helps prevent excess water loss.
In terms of sun requirements, cotoneaster lacteus is very versatile. It can live in deep forest, partial shade, or no shade at all. It needs a fair amount of water and the soil must be well-drained.
An interesting fact about cotoneasters is that their branches are used, and have been used for centuries, in making baskets in the Himalayas.
Cotoneaster lacteus and other Cotoneaster species have become naturalised and have become serious weed problems in scrub and waste places and sometimes in pastures.

Berries are poisonous.





Upper surface of leaf


Underside showing cotton-like texture on the bottom of the leaf