This is an undemanding and tough evergreen shrub from China, even though it is often known as Indian hawthorn. It belongs to the Rosaceae family, so has a kinship with plants such as Malus, Chaenomeles, Photinia, Spiraea and Rosa. It has glossy evergreen leaves and panicles of pink-blushed white, lightly scented, star-shaped flowers in early spring, followed by dark-coloured berries. Height is to 2-2.5 m. More compact cultivars of the shrub include 'Cosmic Pink' (large pink blooms, ht 80 cm). There are also various other species and crosses, including Rhaphiolepis x delacouri (ht 2 m), with rose-pink or dark pink flowers. Its cultivar 'Springtime' (1-1.5 m) is a compact cultivar with pale pink star-shaped flowers that have a light fragrance. The new leaves in spring are often coppery or bronze.
Rhaphiolepis grows easily in a sunny position (though can also tolerate part-shade, where its habit will be more open and the flowering less profuse) and is not troubled by any pests or diseases. It can be trimmed back lightly to shape after flowering and benefits from an occasional dose of fertiliser when the rest of the garden is being done. The compact forms can make an excellent low hedge and can be grown in containers. It is suitable for seaside gardens. It can be propagated from cuttings taken in late summer.