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European Euonymus Euonymus europaeus

Other Common Name(s):

Phonetic Spelling
yoo-ON-ih-mus yoo-ROH-pay-us
This plant has low severity poison characteristics.
See below
This plant is an invasive species in North Carolina
Description

European Spindle Tree is a tall, upright, sometimes spindly, deciduous shrub or small tree that has the typical Euonymus characteristics; a tough, long-lasting plant that grows rounder and wider as it matures. In the wild, European Spindle Tree is usually found in the woods, scrub, and hedges of Europe, usually on calcareous soils. It also has the poisonous characteristic typical of all Euonymus shrubs when parts are eaten in large quantities. No parts of the shrub should be eaten, including the berries or flowers.  

These shrubs are not known for showy flowers, which are small, half inch in size, and yellowish green in mid-spring. In the fall, the leaf color can be dull tan to yellow-green to a a burgundy. Its' most showy feature is the brightly colored fall berries that begin shrouded in pink to red capsules and open to bright orange fleshy seed coverings (arils), which are eaten by some birds.

The European Spindle Tree is particularly suited to dry shaded areas and prefers a well-drained, alkaline, loamy soil. It tolerates most soil types and should be planted in well drained but moist soil in full sun to part shade. It tolerates close to full shade, but at the expense of diminished fall color. It appreciates consistent and even moisture, particularly when grown in full sun locations. Note that these plants often struggle in the southeastern United States, south of USDA Zone 7.

Diseases, Insect Pests, and Other Plant Problems:

No serious insect or disease problems. Scale can be a significant problem and should be treated if it appears. Possible disease problems include twig blight, anthracnose, crown gall, leaf spot and mildew. Birds spread the seeds, leading to the shrub's tendency to invasiveness, which can be controlled through pruning.

More information on Euonymus.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Albus'
    Features white fruit.
  • 'Red Cascade'
    Slow growth to 8-13 ft. high and wide, bright red leaves and orange fruit in autumn.
'Albus', 'Red Cascade'
Tags:
#hardy#deciduous#small tree#invasive#poisonous#full sun tolerant#specimen#shrub#wildlife plants#large spaces#partial shade tolerant
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Albus'
    Features white fruit.
  • 'Red Cascade'
    Slow growth to 8-13 ft. high and wide, bright red leaves and orange fruit in autumn.
'Albus', 'Red Cascade'
Tags:
#hardy#deciduous#small tree#invasive#poisonous#full sun tolerant#specimen#shrub#wildlife plants#large spaces#partial shade tolerant
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Euonymus
    Species:
    europaeus
    Family:
    Celastraceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    The whole plant yields a volatile oil that is used in soap making. A high quality charcoal is obtained from the wood, it is used by artists.
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Europe to Caucasus and western Asia.
    Distribution:
    Widely distributed in Europe (Britain to Sweden, south to Spain) and western Asia. Also found in eastern Canada and the eastern United States.
    Wildlife Value:
    Some birds eat the berries
    Edibility:
    Toxic when eaten in quantity by humans.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 12 ft. 0 in. - 20 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 10 ft. 0 in. - 16 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Poisonous
    Shrub
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Ascending
    Erect
    Irregular
    Rounded
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    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:
    Clay
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    3b, 3a, 4a, 4b, 5b, 5a, 6b, 6a, 7b, 7a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Pink
    Red/Burgundy
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Type:
    Berry
    Capsule
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    The colorful pinkish to red berry emerges from a capsule in the fall. It should not be eaten by humans. It is about one half to three quarters inch across. Pinkish-red capsules split open to reveal tiny seeds, each of which is encased in a fleshy orange aril. Seeds are attractive to certain birds who eat and distribute them.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Cyme
    Insignificant
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Cross
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Small, yellowish-green flowers (1/2 inch across) bloom in 3 to 5 flowered cymes from late April to June. Flowers are not very showy.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Purple/Lavender
    Leaf Feel:
    Smooth
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Cream/Tan
    Gold/Yellow
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Opposite
    Leaf Shape:
    Oblanceolate
    Obovate
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Serrate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Ovate to oblong-lanceolate, crenate-serrate, glabrous, dull dark green leaves (to 3 inches long) turn variable shades of red to orange to purple in fall.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Dark Gray
    Light Brown
    Bark Description:
    Grey-brown bark when shrub matures.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Green
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Description:
    Thin, greenish-red stems.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Meadow
    Naturalized Area
    Slope/Bank
    Landscape Theme:
    Rain Garden
    Design Feature:
    Barrier
    Border
    Foundation Planting
    Hedge
    Specimen
    Attracts:
    Songbirds
    Problems:
    Invasive Species
    Poisonous to Humans
  • Poisonous to Humans:
    Poison Severity:
    Low
    Poison Symptoms:
    Vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, chills, coma, and convulsions if any parts, including berries, are eaten in large quantities.
    Poison Toxic Principle:
    Unidentified, possibly a glycoside
    Causes Contact Dermatitis:
    No
    Poison Part:
    Bark
    Flowers
    Fruits
    Leaves
    Roots
    Seeds
    Stems