Euonymus alatus

  • Attributes: Genus: Euonymus Species: alatus Family: Celastraceae Recommended Propagation Strategy: Seed Country Or Region Of Origin: South Siberia to Japan and China Wildlife Value: Fruit attracts birds who eat the seeds and distribute them. The fall berries are eaten by birds, and the seeds are easily spread by birds. It is attractive to deer. This plant is frequently damaged by deer. Play Value: Wildlife Food Source Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems): Range of soil types; drought tolerant Dimensions: Height: 6 ft. 0 in. – 20 ft. 0 in. Width: 8 ft. 0 in. – 12 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits: Plant Type: Poisonous Shrub Leaf Characteristics: Deciduous Habit/Form: Dense Erect Horizontal Mounding Multi-stemmed Multi-trunked Spreading Growth Rate: Slow Maintenance: Low Texture: Medium
  • Cultural Conditions: Light: Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day) Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours) Soil Texture: High Organic Matter Loam (Silt) Sand Soil Drainage: Good Drainage NC Region: Coastal Piedmont Usda Plant Hardiness Zone: 4a, 4b, 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b
  • Fruit: Fruit Color: Cream/Tan Gold/Yellow Orange Pink Red/Burgundy Display/Harvest Time: Fall Fruit Type: Berry Capsule Fruit Length: < 1 inch Fruit Width: < 1 inch Fruit Description: Small red fleshy fruit ripens in fall within a red capsule. This plant has 0.5-0.3 in. red, pink, ivory to yellow capsule splitting to show orange-red seeds in the fall that are attractive to birds. The fall berries are eaten by birds, and the seeds are easily spread by birds. An obovoid, dehiscent capsule; single seed enclosed in orange-red aril.
  • Flowers: Flower Color: Green Red/Burgundy Flower Inflorescence: Cyme Insignificant Flower Bloom Time: Spring Flower Petals: 4-5 petals/rays Flower Size: < 1 inch Flower Description: This plant has non-showy, small 4-petaled greenish-maroon flowers. A 3-flowered cyme, axillary. Yellow-green, 4-petaled, ca 6 mm.
  • Leaves: Leaf Characteristics: Deciduous Leaf Color: Green Deciduous Leaf Fall Color: Red/Burgundy Leaf Type: Simple Leaf Arrangement: Opposite Leaf Shape: Cuneate Elliptical Obovate Ovate Leaf Margin: Crenate Serrate Hairs Present: No Leaf Length: 1-3 inches Leaf Description: This plant has elliptic to obovate, crenulate to serrulate opposite to sub-opposite, simple leaves that are 1-3 in. long and medium to dark green. They can be finely serrated with corky winged branches. Leaves provide excellent red fall color. Opposite, simple, elliptic-ovate to obovate, acute, cuneate, serrate, medium-dark green; buds green-brown-red, breaks the continuous wing.
  • Stem: Stem Color: Brown/Copper Stem Is Aromatic: No Stem Description: Stems have corky “wings” and seed capsules on them hence the common name. Green to greenish-brown, alate with 2-4 prominate, corky wings 1/4-1/2″ wide, new growth is reddish-green.

  • Landscape: Landscape Location: Naturalized Area Woodland Design Feature: Border Hedge Screen/Privacy Specimen Attracts: Songbirds Resistance To Challenges: Drought Problems: Invasive Species Poisonous to Humans Problem for Children Weedy
  • Poisonous to Humans: Poison Severity: Low Poison Symptoms: Poisonous through ingestion. Poisonous symptoms: abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, convulsions, weakness, chills, and coma. TOXIC ONLY IF LARGE QUANTITIES EATEN. Ingesting large amounts of any part of the plant can result in poisoning. CHILDREN may be attracted to fruits in fall. No part of this plant is edible, including seeds: All parts are poisonous. Poison Toxic Principle: Unidentified, possibly a glycoside Causes Contact Dermatitis: No Poison Part: Bark Flowers Fruits Leaves Roots Sap/Juice Seeds Stems

medicinal herbsWinged Spindle TreeEuonymus alatus

Herb: Winged Spindle Tree

Latin name: Euonymus alatus

Synonyms: Celastrus alatus, Euonymus striatus

Family: Celastraceae (Bittersweet Family)

Medicinal use of Winged Spindle Tree:

The stem and branches are alterative, analgesic, anodyne, anthelmintic, anticoagulant, antiphlogistic, antipruritic, astringent blood tonic, carminative, emmenagogue, hypoglycaemic, and purgative. It is used in Korea to treat intestinal worms, suppressed menstruation and cancer. A decoction is used in China in the treatment of “cold” headache, general body aches, pruritis, irregular menstruation and other gynaecological diseases. Plants contain the anticancer compound dulcitol.

Description of the plant:




2 m
(6 1/2 foot)


July to

Habitat of the herb:

Thickets and woods in lowland and mountains all over Japan.

Edible parts of Winged Spindle Tree:

Young leaves, boiled. The fruit may be edible. No further details are given, though we would recommend caution in eating any member of this genus. The fruit is about 8mm in diameter. The seed contains 20.5% protein, 44.4% fat and 3.9% ash. These reports of edibility should be treated with some caution, see the notes above on toxicity. The flowers are a tea substitute.

Other uses of the herb:

This species can be grown as a hedge, the var. compactus is normally used.

Propagation of Winged Spindle Tree:

Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. Stored seed requires 8 – 12 weeks warm followed by 8 – 16 weeks cold stratification and can then be sown in a cold frame. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 5 – 8cm long taken at a node or with a heel, July/August in a frame. Very easy.

Cultivation of the herb:

Thickets and woods in lowland and mountains all over Japan.

Known hazards of Euonymus alatus:

Although no records of toxicity have been seen for this species, a number of plants in this genus are suspected of being poisonous and so some caution is advised.
Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.

Awesome in autumn – the Compact Winged Spindle Tree

Everybody loves the different hues of autumn colour in our gardens and our landscapes. It’s like nature’s gift to us before the winter sets in. A particularly striking autumn plant is the Compact Winged Spindle Tree (Latin name Euonymus Alatus Compactus and also known as Burning Bush). And you can see why – this image of one of our Compact Winged Spindle Trees was taken last autumn.

Awesome in autumn – the Compact Winged Spindle Tree

Along with Japanese Acers, the Compact Winged Spindle Tree is one of the most colourful trees or shrubs to choose for autumn colour. Euonymus Alatus Compactus is a deciduous shrub. It has small green flowers in spring followed by purple fruit. Its growth habit tends to be bushy. In terms of size, it can grow to a max of around 2 metres, so this shrub also works well in smaller gardens.

The Compact Winged Spindle Tree as it begins to change colour

The Compact Winged Spindle Tree carries the Garden Merit Award from the RHS.
For sale at Paramount Plants – visit our North London garden centre or buy online.

Compact Winged Spindle Tree. Euonymus Alatus Compactus (Burning Bush Tree)

Landscape ShrubsWinged Euonymus (Burningbush)(Euonymus alatus)

It is rare to find plants that are main components of landscapes in almost every part of the U.S. including the deep South, but burningbush (Euonymus alatus) is one of them. Like forsythia and floweringquince (Chaenomeles), burningbush appears to be one of those bread & butter deciduous plants that are adaptable enough to tolerate a wide range of environmental situations.

Burningbush is a fairly versatile deciduous plant from its landscape value to tolerance of sun and shade. The texture on burningbush is clearly medium due to refined branches and delicate medium green leaves. One of the other common names for burningbush is the winged Euonymus. This later common name clearly describes the pronounced corky ‘wings’ that are visible on most twigs. Even in the dead of winter this plant is easy to identify from the pronounced corky ‘wings’. For photographers, this is a key plant to watch in winter when light dustings of snow highlight the artistic ‘winged’ branches.

While the summer leaf color is a medium green, in the fall this is one shrub that lights up our landscape with reliable and brilliant soft pink fall color. The exceptional fall color explains the other frequently cited common name, burningbush.

Flowers on burningbush are typical of other Euonymus and are therefore not showy. Individual flowers are small (less than ¼” in diameter) and a yellow-green color that blends into the green leaves. Collectively the small flowers are born on a cyme. Flowering is typically in early April just after the plant leafs out. The fruit, which is a dehiscent capsule, is surprisingly not that showy. The beauty in the fruit is not the outer capsule wings but the vivid, inner, orange seeds. Unlike other Euonymus, the fruit display lacks that “wow” factor and this may be due to the arrangement of leaves and fruits or the timing of leaf and fruit drop. Although invasiveness is not an issue in Arkansas, this plant is considered ‘weedy’ in many eastern states.

Burningbush would be classified as a medium to large shrub. Most specimens tend to be 9-10’ tall with a similar spread. A primary justification for many cultivars is for reduced plant size although this can sometimes be misleading. A clear example is the cultivar ‘Compactus’. While the cultivar name might suggest a dwarf plant, this selection clearly does not represent a significant reduction in plant size. ‘Compactus’ clearly distinguishes itself from the species by having a brilliant fire red fall color. Most plants used in Arkansas tend to be one of the semi-dwarf cultivars such as ‘Rudy Haag’ or ‘Nordine Strain’. These cultivars tend to be about 5’ tall. The cultivar Chicago FireTM is marketed as having superior crimson fall color but it is hard to imagine having more intense color than what is seen on ‘Compactus’.

Unlike evergreen Euonymus, it is rare to observe any significant disease or insect problems on burningbush. While burningbush is known for tolerating landscape situations from full sun to dense shade in the North and East, in Arkansas the plant is best suited in partial sun to dense shade. Premature fall color results on plants situated in full sun. The preferred soil should be a rich soil with consistent and adequate moisture. This is not a drought tolerant plant. Although an uncommon use in the South, this plant is frequently used as a sheared, deciduous hedge in other parts of the country.

  • Common Name: burningbush, winged Euonymus
  • Varieties to look for: ‘Rudy Haag’
  • Flower Color: yellow, insignificant
  • Blooming period: early April
  • Type: deciduous shrub
  • Size: 9’ tall by 9’wide
  • Exposure: shade to partial sun
  • Soil: well drained, slightly acid
  • Watering: consistent moisture
  • When to prune: as needed
  • Suggested use: foundation, mixed shrub border, hedge

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *