This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V18", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
C. C, Decherd, Tenn., writes: - "Can you, through the Monthly, give me any information about the Pyracantha hedge plant? Is it the same as the Virginia White Thorn? Is there any difference as to hardiness between the white and red varieties? How far north can it be grown as a hedge?' What is its true botanical name; and how should the seed be managed to sprout it?"
[We do not know what is Virginia White Thorn - probably some "common" name not worth while vexing oneself about. The Botanical name is Crataegus Pyracantha. There are two varieties, the common Pyracantha with red berries, and the White Berried Pyracantha, with (so far as generally seen) no berries at all. The former is hardy in Pennsylvania, sometimes only - the last is always hardy there. It is rather slow in growth - the white berried one - but makes an admirable hedge in time. We imagine there can be no more perfect hedge than an eight or ten year old white berry Pyracantha hedge. The red berried variety differs from the other in this, that it does not grow close and need pruning, and is not absolutely hardy here. The white berried variety was first brought to notice by Messrs. Parsons & Co., and whatever credit may be attached to the idea, is theirs. We suggested, however, in these pages at the time of its first introduction that the name of "White Berried Pyracantha " should be changed - but the suggestion, we regret to say, was not acted on, and it is too late now.
Through a large extent of country the red Pyracantha is of no use as a hedge plant, while the other is invaluable, but no one would know this by its name.
The Pyracantha of both kinds is raised by nurserymen from cuttings - it is rarely attempted from seed. All the Crataegus family take a year to sprout. It is too slow a business whenever cuttings can be had. As for the white berried one, it seems very shy of seeding at all. In twenty years we have not seen a dozen berries, and these were hardly white. It is hardly necessary to say that critically the fruit of these plants are not "berries" - but we are speaking in the common gardening language, and not for botanical students. - Ed. G. M.]