Winged Euonymus or Burning Bush (Euonymus alatus)
Description: Winged Euonymus is a deciduous shrub that averages 6 to 10 feet in height but is capable of reaching 15 feet. It has opposite, simple, elliptical toothed leaves which turn bright scarlet in autumn. Among its distinctive features are the prominently corky-winged green and brown twigs. The fruit is a cluster of pods, usually four, which are quite showy. These purple fruits split open when ripe revealing the bright red inner parts.
Origin: Native to eastern Asia, winged Euonymus was brought to the United States during the mid-nineteenth century and has been widely planted as an ornamental. A dwarf variety, compactus, is a popular hedge-forming plant.
Winged Euonymus is used primarily as foundation plantings, hedges, and highway plantings. It is widely disseminated by wildlife species, which spread the seeds in their droppings.
Habitat: Winged Euonymus grows in a variety of soil conditions and spreads readily from cultivation into old fields, open woods, and mature second growth forests.
Why is it a problem? In open woodlands, winged Euonymus replaces native shrubs. In areas where it forms dense monotypic lands, it reduces habitat diversity. The root system forms a dense mat just below the soil surface. The combination of the dense shade provided and the tight root system makes survival of other plants beneath Euonymus impossible.
Management: Hand pulling sprouts and saplings can be effective. Larger shrubs may require heavy equipment for eradication of the plant. Use of herbicides on cut stumps and young plants may also be effective.
For persistent berries:
- Aronia arbutifolia (Red Chokeberry)-also bright fall color
- Ilex verticillata (Winterberry)
- Viburnum trilobum (Highbush Cranberry)
For fall foliage/winter interest:
- Cornus amomum (Silky Dogwood)-also a fall food source
- Cornus sericea (Red Twig Dogwood) – also a fall food source
- Vaccinium corymbosum (Highbush Blueberry – also a summer food source
CT Department of Environmental Protection, Wildlife Division
Fernald,M.L.1950 Gray ‘s Manual of Botany. 8th edition (New York: American Book Company) 1632 pp.
Gleason, H.A. and A. Cronquist. 1991 Manual of Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada 2nd ed. (Bronx, NY: The New York Botanical Garden), 910 pp.
Janet Marinelli and Beth Hanson, Editors, 1996. Invasive Plants: Weeds of the Global Garden. Handbook Number 149. (New York: Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Inc.) 111pp.
This fact sheet was produced by the Connecticut Invasive Plant Working Group. For more information, visit our website at: www.eeb.uconn.edu/invasive.
For additional information about Burning Bush, see Burning Bush.