are pyracantha berries poisonous to birds

I am writing this during one of the coldest, longest winters that I can remember in the lifetime I’ve lived in Ohio.

It started at Thanksgiving with whiz-bang cold and snow and marched right through December. After a very short respite of January thaw, it dived with a vengeance to lasting frigid temperatures. Let me tell you, that can be hard on the wild creatures.

So how can we plant our gardens to provide food and shelter for the birds that overwinter? Here are a few words to help answer that heartfelt question.

One of the main shows through my living room window is the visitors to my Pyracantha shrub. Every year birds come to feast on the berries, even though they come late. It seems other food sources are their preference, but eventually the Pyracantha coccinea draws them in.

The drawback for firethorns, in my area at least, is that they are not fully hardy for a Zone 5 garden. I have compensated for that by planting my bush on the leeward side of my house. It remains to be seen how hardy many of my plantings are after a season this harsh. Although central Ohio is definitely a cold climate, rarely are the temperatures so frigid for so long.

What varieties are the best bet for far Northern landscapes?  Try ‘Teton’ or ‘Yukon Belle’, instead of the ‘Mohave’ which is the cultivar nestled right up along the side of my house.

One concern that few of us are aware of ? The poor nutrition that some of the common imported plants provide. Just as in our own diets, there are some source of food which higher nutrition value. I reported on that. Lonicera tartarica was the offender that is referred to as “fast food” for birds.

Native Berries Are Better Planting Choices

  • Sumac: The Staghorn Sumac is tremendously decorative. One quite large and venerable one was growing in my backyard when I was growing up. The fiery hues of the fall foliage and the exquisite crimson velvet seed heads are sufficient incentives to plant it.
  • Winterberry Holly is a hardy shrub that yields delicious winter berries. Try ‘Winter Red’, one of the designated varieties offered by Ilex verticillata. Similar to many native options, this can get huge Additionally, it is dioecious, meaning that in order to produce the berries, you will need a pair—a male and a female. They grow best in moist, acidic environments, which is a disadvantage in my opinion.
  • Aronia arbutifolia is another plant with brilliant fall foliage. It’s a hardy native that yields an abundance of berries. Although I found it difficult to maintain, it is still worthwhile to try. It grows to be very big and, if it likes where it is, colonizes.
  • Callicarpa americana, or beautyberry, grows more in gardens with three to five feet of space. tall and wide. Although it is a vital source of food for birds, be aware that deer adore its foliage. The purple berries are outstanding.
  • Bayberries: I grow two bayberries that have gotten huge. They are located in my “wild” section of the garden, even though it seems like over the past ten or so years, most of my garden has gone wild. Two natives are Myrica pensylvanica and M. cerifera. In my relatively open prairie spaces, the bayberries grow widely, spreading, and unpruned.
  • Viburnums: You now have yet another excellent reason to own at least one of these magnificent garden shrubs. The native ones are V. dentatum, V. trilobum, V. acerifolium,V. prunifolium.

Here are three native shrubs that I’ve selected for you, courtesy of my partnership with Nature Hills, who also provide some really great information about them:

Holly – Berry Heavy – $74.90

  • Zones 4-9.
  • Heavy Crops of Bright Red Berries
  • Likes Wet Soils
  • Attracts Wildlife
Coral Berry – Amethyst™ – $45.95 Symphoricarpos x doorenbosii ‘Kordes’

  • White Flowers Mid Summer
  • Persistent Vivid Pink Fruit
  • Deer Resistant
Native American Plum – $66.50

  • Spring and fall display
  • Tasty fruit
  • Â Hardy
  • Wildlife interest

Adding nutrient-rich berried shrubs to your landscape is only one aspect of maintaining a healthy bird population.

More of these incredibly helpful creatures will visit and be encouraged to stay by adding a few well-chosen garden ornaments like bird baths and feeders, landscaping to provide nesting and cover, and practices like more organic and green growing methods.

We are stewards of our small plot of land as well as gardeners. We cultivate and nurture.

Yes, we create beauty for ourselves, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t also make things safe and healthy. Logically, that should follow the best design.

All it takes to make decisions that benefit the environment and all of its inhabitants as well as our own designs is a little knowledge and understanding.

Whether a toddler accidentally consumes a handful of berries or intentionally consumes a handful in an attempt to self-harm, no reports of serious toxicity in humans have been made. When berries are consumed in large quantities, the main risk is mild gastrointestinal irritation, which can cause nausea and vomiting in 15 to 30 minutes. Additionally, small children who attempt to swallow multiple berries at once run the risk of choking. Ingestion of a few berries is considered non-toxic. Although there are currently no recommendations to eat Pyracantha berries, some of the components extracted from the berries are being studied for possible health benefits. There is no specific treatment for anyone swallowing the berries.

Pyracantha, a shrub that is evergreen and a member of the Rosaceae family of plants, is also referred to as firethorn. Pyracantha angustifolia, Pyracantha coccinea, Pyracantha fortuneana, and Pyracantha koidzumii are a few of the species. The shrub usually has shiny evergreen foliage, white flowers, clusters of orange-red berries, and needle-like thorns, though the exact species may have different appearances. The dimensions can vary from 6 to 8 feet in width and 5 to 12 feet in height. Plant hybrids produce berries that are both smaller and have different colors. Because of its thick thorns, the shrub not only provides year-round interest with its leaves, flowers, and berries, but it can also be used as a natural barrier. In order to discourage intruders, shrubs can be planted closely together in place of fences and beneath windows.

Seven boys in the fourth and fifth grades were eating Pyracantha berries at school, so the school nurse called Poison Control. The nurse was worried about the possibility of poisoning even though all the boys were okay. The boys might experience some mild upset stomach, but the nurse was told there was no need to get them checked out medically.

Pyracantha is an evergreen shrub often used in landscaping. The shrub typically has plentiful orange-red berries and needle-like thorns. Animal or human toxicity has not been demonstrated for the berries, though excessive consumption may result in mild upset stomach symptoms.

Pyracantha coccinea. In: Frohne D, Pfander HJ. A guide to toxic plants intended for medical professionals, pharmacists, biologists, and veterinarians 2nd ed. Portland OR: Timber Press; 1984. p. 335-6.


Is pyracantha poisonous to birds?

Scientists say that pyracantha berries contain hydrogen cyanide, which may act as a mild neurotoxin in birds if consumed in large amounts.

How poisonous are pyracantha berries?

The Bottom Line. Pyracantha is an evergreen shrub often used in landscaping. The shrub typically has plentiful orange-red berries and needle-like thorns. The berries have not been shown to be toxic to animals or humans, although swallowing large amounts might cause some mild stomach upset.

What animal eats pyracantha berries?

Many species of birds, namely robins, feed on small red berries such as “Firethorn” or “Pyracantha” berries and Holly berries.