Pyracantha coccinea - Firethorn
Firethorn is gorgeous year round. Long trusses of white flowers cover the stems in summer, then scarlet berries follow. The bush becomes a mound of flame, peaking around Thanksgiving when Cedar Waxwings migrate and stop to feast on the fruit. The display lasts well into winter.
Pyracantha is intoxicating to birds, literally. It's a must for wildlife gardens and will attract many songbirds, but the fruit makes them tipsy. Fifty years ago, it was planted along California freeways because of its tolerance for air pollution and drought. Migrating birds would eat the berries and stagger onto the roadway. The state replaced the Pyracanthas. They're better for gardens in safe neighborhoods.
Firethorn is wonderful for Christmas decorations. The berry-covered boughs can be cut and brought indoors. They last for weeks and have the festive appeal of holly without the prickles.
Evergreen in zones 5-9, loves sun, Pyracatha is tolerant of smog and dry soil. And snow! It's ideal for foundation plantings or hedges. Over generations it can climb up the side of a house, or trimmed to hedge size.
Pyracantha needs cold stratification. Sow your seeds in fall and they'll sprout in spring.