A deciduous shrub or small tree 10 to 12 ft high; branches slender, pendulous or arching, and glabrous except when quite young. Leaves thin in texture, varying in shape from ovate and oval to roundish; 3⁄4 to 21⁄2 in. long, 1⁄2 to 11⁄2 in. “wide; usually blunt or rounded at the end, hairy when quite young, but soon becoming glabrous above; pale and often glabrous, never permanently woolly beneath; stalk 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 in. long. Flowers white, produced in branching clusters of three to twelve or more, not pleasantly scented. Fruit round or pear-shaped, red.
A species of wide range in Asia, from the Caucasus through Central Asia and W. Siberia to China; a variety (see below) is found in Spain. It was first discovered in Siberia, in the Altai Mountains, and introduced to Kew in 1837. This is one of the most elegant of cotoneasters. There is a specimen at Kew with a single well-formed trunk supporting a crown of pendulous or arching branches; the whole 10 to 12 ft high. When the branches are wreathed with abundant blossom in May and June, this tree makes a most charming picture. The same species was later found in China by Wilson and other collectors.
var. calocarpus Rehd. & Wils. C. calocarpus (Rehd. & Wils.) Flinck & Hylmö – Leaves long and narrower than in the type; fruit larger. It was introduced by Wilson in 1908 and has proved to be a singularly beautiful fruit-bearing shrub.
var. granatensis (Boiss.) Wenzig C. granatensis Boiss. – Widely separated from the main range of the species, this variety is found on the slopes of the Sierra Nevada, in S. Spain. It is near the type in its botanical characters, differing in its more lax corymbs, somewhat hairy calyx, and more downy leaves.