Winged burning bush
FULL SCIENTIFIC NAME
Euonymus alata (Thunb.) Siebold
FAMILY NAME COMMON
FAMILY SCIENTIFIC NAME
Close-up of flowers
Close-up of fruit
Close-up of stem showing wings
Leaves with fruit
Synonyms: Celastrus alata Thunb.
Euonymus alata is a deciduous shrub that can grow to 2.5 m (8.2 ft.) in height. The most distinguishing features of this plant are the 2-4 broad, corky wings along the branches. However, sometimes individuals may lack wings (as in the cultivar, 'Compactus'). The branches of Euonymus alata are gray-brown in color. The leaves are 2.4-7.2 cm (1-3 in.) long, 1.3-3.2 cm (0.5-1.25 in.) wide, taper at both ends, and are positioned opposite to sub-opposite along the branches. They have short petioles, are finely and sharply serrate at the margins. This plant is very conspicuous in the fall as the leaves turn from dark green to a bright red. The inconspicuous flowers of Euonymus alata appear in late April to June. They usually have four greenish-yellow petals, and are arranged with 1-3 flowers in a cyme. The fruit appear from September to October and are 1.3 cm (0.5 in.) long. The ovary walls are red-purple, and split open to reveal up to 4 seeds with waxy red-orange arils. Page References Gleason & Cronquist 329, Holmgren 308, Magee & Ahles 716. See reference section below for full citations.
The fruits of Euonymus alata are usually dispersed by birds. They also drop just below the plant, creating a "seed shadow."
Euonymus alata is native to northeastern Asia, Japan and central China. In the United States it is now found from New England to northern Florida, and west to Iowa and Missouri. It has also been reported from Montana. It is found in all of the New England States.
HISTORY OF INTRODUCTION IN NEW ENGLAND
Euonymus alata was introduced as an ornamental shrub around 1860 and is planted in all types of landscaping - highways, malls, post offices, bridge abutments and private homes. It is through its use as a popular shrub that it was first introduced into this area.
HABITATS IN NEW ENGLANDAbandoned Field,Early Successional Forest,Edge,Pasture,Planted Forest,Railroad Right-of-Way,Roadside,Utility Right-of-Way,Vacant Lot,Yard or Garden
Euonymus alata can be located in habitats ranging from full sun to full shade. It can also tolerate a variety of soil types and pH levels. It grows well in well-drained soils and does not tolerate water-logged soils as readily. It is found not only in open or disturbed areas but also in forests as understory plants.
Since the seeds of Euonymus alata are bird dispersed, it has spread extensively from plantings. Euonymus alata plants have been observed in dense thickets, threatening native plants by crowding and shading. Below the plant there is often a seed shadow where hundreds of seedlings can be found. It threatens a variety of habitats such as forests, coastal scrublands, fields and prairies. This plant continues to be used as an ornamental, thus continuing its spread in the region.
The Connecticut Invasive Plant Working Group Invasive Plant Management Guide
Comprehensive management information.
Documentation required: Photograph or snippet of branches.
Best time for documentation: All seasons.
Integrated Taxonomic Information System
Taxonomic information about the species
The PLANTS Database
General information and distribution map
VA Department of Conservation and Recreation, Virginia Native Plant Society
General information including distribution and control
Virginia Tech Dendrology
Description and Photographs
Bailey, L. H. 1949. Manual of Cultivated Plants. Macmillan, New York. Behnke, G. and J.E. Ebinger. 1989. Woody invasion of glacial drift hill prairies in east-central Illinois. Transactions of the Illinois Academy of Science. 82(1-2):1-4. Dirr, M.A. 1983. Manual of Woody Landscape Plants. Stipes Publishing Company, Champaign, Illinois. Ebinger, J.E. and L.R. Phillippe. 1973. New plant records for Illinois. Transactions of the Illinois Academy of Science. 66(3-4): 115. Fire Conference 2000. Proceedings of the Invasive Species Workshop: The Role of Fire in the Control and Spread of Invasive Species. The First National Congress on Fire Ecology, Prevention, and Management. Tall Timbers Research Station, Miscellaneous Publication No. 11. Gleason, H.A. and A.C. Cronquist. 1991. Manual of Vascular Plants of the Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. 2nd ed. New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, New York. Holmgren, N.H. 1998. Illustrated Companion to Gleason and Cronquist's Manual. New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, New York. Magee, D.W and H.E. Ahles. 1999. Flora of the Northeast. University of Massachusetts Press, Amherst. USDA, NRCS. 2001. The PLANTS Database, Version 3.1. (http://plants.usda.gov). National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA.