1. Q. I have a beautiful pyracantha in my front yard. It is loaded with berries. I have heard that the pyracantha is related to the apple and that the fruit (berries) is edible. Is this correct?

The fact is, pyracantha berries are entirely edible and there is at least one recipe I've discovered for pyracantha jelly.

If you have a surplus of pyracantha berries this fall and would just as soon the birds did not rob you of them, you might enjoy the taste of pyracantha jelly. It is quite tasty, much like apple jelly in appearance and flavor.

2. Q: I was glad to see the recipe for pyracantha jelly on the Parson's Archive age...but I need to know: when am I supposed to pick the berries? How do I know when they're ripe?

A: Since they are nothing more than a little apple, they are normally picked when they have turned fairly red. This is usually in late summer or early fall. Watch the birds; when they start harvesting them, you know it is time to get your share!!!

2. Q: I have a pyracantha in my front yard. It only produces a few berries each year while others I've seen in the neighborhood are loaded! Is there something I can do to increase the yield?

A: I would suspect light as the culprit, or more correctly the lack of light. Since pyracantha is member of the rose or apple family it is nothing more than a small apple. All fruit plants need full sunlight for best production. So if your plant is receiving less than 10 hours of light each day or if it is shaded by other plants you would expect for it to produce less fruit.

If that is not the case, the next place you would look would be the general health and growth of the plant. If it is growing good and has nice green color, then you are in good shape. If it is yellow it may be lacking in nitrogen or iron which may be causing the poor fruit production. So you may need to apply iron or nitrogen. Excess nitrogen can stimulate excessive growth which will also lead to poor fruit production.

Finally, pruning per se will not stimulate fruit production. Heavy pruning will stimulate lush vegetative growth which will fail to produce fruit. So don't go butchering your plant just yet; depending on your light conditions you may have to live with the amount of fruit you are getting.

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