Euonymus alatus (Thunb.) Sieb.Burning Bush, Winged Euonymus
May be confused with the following native and/or non-native species.
Landscape Alternatives lists native horticultural substitutes
HeightBurning Bush is a deciduous, wing-stemmed, bushy shrub to 12 feet (4 m) in height, multiple stemmed and much branched. The canopy is broad and leafy.
StemFour corky wings or ridges appear along young lime-green squarish twigs and become wider with age. There are numerous opposite branches, with the bases encircled by corky rings. Larger branches and bark becomes light gray.
LeavesOpposite, obovate, and thin, the leaves are only 1 to 2 inches (2.5 to 5 cm) long and 0.4 to 0.8 inch (1 to 2 cm) wide. Tips taper to an acute point, and the margins are finely crenate. Both leaf surfaces are smooth and hairless colored dark green with whitish midvein above and light green beneath. Foliage turns bright crimson to purplish red in fall. Petioles are 0.04 to 0.16 inches (1 to 4 mm) long.
FlowersIn April and May, axillary pairs of small, inconspicuous flowers (0.2 to 0.3 inch [6 to 8 mm] across) appear at the ends of a Y-shaped 1-inch (2.5-cm) stem. Flowers are greenish-yellow and five-lobed; the pistil elongates as fruit forms.
Fruit and seedsFrom August to January, pairs of (or single) reddish capsules dangle from leaf axils, turn purple, and split open in fall to reveal an orange fleshy-covered seed.
ImagesPhoto: James H. Miller, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org
More images of Euonymus alatus
Ecology and HabitatTolerant of a wide variety of soils and heavy shade, Burning Bush colonizes by root suckers and spreads by animal-dispersed seeds. Drought may stress the plant. The scientific name may appear as Euonymus alata (Thunb.) Sieb. in some references. It is in the Celastraceae or Staff-Tree family.
Origin and DistributionIntroduced from northeast Asia in the 1860s. Widely planted as an ornamental and for highway beautification due to its reliable and very showy fall foliage coloration. Numerous cultivars are available.
Other states where invasive: CT, DE, IN, KY, MA, MD, MO, NH, NJ, OH, PA, RI, VA, WI, WV. Federal or state listed as noxious weed, prohibited, invasive or banned: CT, MA.
Source: Information on this plant page is derived primarily from James H. Miller's Nonnative Invasive Plants of Southern Forests, USDA Forest Service.
Foliar MethodThoroughly wet all leaves with Arsenal AC or Vanquish as a 1-percent solution in water (4 ounces per 3-gallon mix) with a surfactant (April to October).
Basal Bark MethodFor stems too tall for foliar sprays, apply Garlon 4 as a 20-percent solution in commercially available basal oil, diesel fuel, or kerosene (2.5 quarts per 3-gallon mix) with a penetrant (check with herbicide distributor) to young bark as a basal spray (January to February or May to October).
Cut Stump MethodCut large stems and immediately treat the stumps with one of the following herbicides in water with a surfactant: Arsenal AC as a 10-percent solution (1 quart per 3-gallon mix) or a glyphosate herbicide as a 20-percent solution (2.5 quarts per 3-gallon mix).
Nontarget plants may be killed or injured by root uptake.