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Purpleleaf Wintercreeper Euonymus fortunei 'Colorata'

Other Common Name(s):

Previously known as:

  • Euonymus fortunei var. colorata
Phonetic Spelling
yoo-ON-ih-mus for-TOO-nee-eye
This plant has low severity poison characteristics.
See below
This plant is an invasive species in North Carolina
Description

Purpleleaf Winter Creeper is an herbaceous, perennial, evergreen trailing ground cover, less than a foot in height and with a 1 to 3 foot spread at maturity. It spreads indefinitely by rooting stems, eventually forming a sprawling, tangled, bushy mat, similar in habit to English ivy. It will climb vertical surfaces from trellises to trees like a vine. It is a vigorous grower and readily escapes into native forests. When used as ground cover for the showy leaves, it tends to climb if given support. Stems root where they touch the ground and the plant can be propagated by rooted stem cuttings. Trim annually after flowering to maintain attractive shape. While it is one of the more popular ground covers, t is considered invasive in states surrounding North Carolina. 

Purpleleaf Winter Creeper is found in deciduous forests and low woodlands and is weedy in disturbed areas around houses and buildings. It tolerates a wide range of soil types, drought, and full shade, but prefers full sun to medium shade, moist to dry-mesic conditions, and soil containing loam, clay-loam, sand, and gravelly material. It is pH adaptable and is easily transplanted from woody cuttings.

A number of plants in this genus are poisonous and caution is advised. Avoid eating any parts of this plant in large quantities. The berries in particular should not be eaten by humans. The berries are eaten by some birds which is how the plant is spread and often how it becomes more invasive.

More information on Euonymus.

Diseases, Insect Pests, and Other Plant Problems

Euonymus scale and winter leaf burn can be problems. Susceptible to anthracnose, aphids, powdery mildew and crown gall. This plant is frequently damaged by deer and is salt tolerant.

More information on Euonymus fortunei.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Coloratus'
'Coloratus'
Tags:
#evergreen#poisonous#full sun tolerant#weedy#fall interest#stream banks#spreading#vines#dense#groundcover#partial shade tolerant
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Coloratus'
'Coloratus'
Tags:
#evergreen#poisonous#full sun tolerant#weedy#fall interest#stream banks#spreading#vines#dense#groundcover#partial shade tolerant
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Euonymus
    Species:
    fortunei
    Family:
    Celastraceae
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Root Cutting
    Seed
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    East Asia, China, Japan, and Korea.
    Distribution:
    Introduced to the Eastern United States
    Wildlife Value:
    birds are attracted to seeds in the fall
    Play Value:
    Attractive Flowers
    Wildlife Food Source
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    salt, drought
    Climbing Method:
    Clinging
    Twining
    Edibility:
    Toxic when ingested in large quantities.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 0 ft. 6 in. - 0 ft. 9 in.
    Width: 1 ft. 0 in. - 3 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Ground Cover
    Poisonous
    Vine
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Creeping
    Dense
    Spreading
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    Medium
    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
    High Organic Matter
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Shallow Rocky
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    Available Space To Plant:
    3 feet-6 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    4a, 4b, 5b, 5a, 6b, 6a, 7b, 7a, 8a, 8b, 9b, 9a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Cream/Tan
    Gold/Yellow
    Orange
    Red/Burgundy
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Summer
    Fruit Type:
    Capsule
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    Mature seed capsules are white, globoid, and about ΒΌ inch across. Eventually, they split open to reveal fleshy arils that are orange to red; solitary seeds occurs within these arils.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Green
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Cyme
    Insignificant
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Shape:
    Dome
    Star
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Inconspicuous, greenish-white flowers that are sparse, if they appear at all. If allowed to climb a wall, tree or other structure, this plant assumes more vine-like characteristics and is more likely to produce flowers.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Purple/Lavender
    Leaf Feel:
    Glossy
    Smooth
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Purple/Lavender
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Opposite
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Crenate
    Serrate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Lustrous, ovate to elliptic, dark green leaves (1 to 2 inches long) that turn dark purple in fall and winter.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Dark Brown
    Dark Gray
    Bark Description:
    Gray-brown, thin, initially smooth.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Green
    Red/Burgundy
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Form:
    Zig Zags
    Stem Surface:
    Smooth (glabrous)
    Stem Description:
    Older branches become reddish brown, rough-textured, and woody, while young shoots are green, terete, glabrous, and rather stiff.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Recreational Play Area
    Riparian
    Rock Wall
    Slope/Bank
    Vertical Spaces
    Walkways
    Landscape Theme:
    Children's Garden
    Winter Garden
    Design Feature:
    Border
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Black Walnut
    Drought
    Poor Soil
    Salt
    Problems:
    Invasive Species
    Poisonous to Humans
    Weedy
  • Poisonous to Humans:
    Poison Severity:
    Low
    Poison Symptoms:
    Toxic if eaten in large quantities. Can result in vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, chills, coma, and convulsions.
    Poison Toxic Principle:
    Unidentified, possibly a glycoside
    Causes Contact Dermatitis:
    No
    Poison Part:
    Flowers
    Fruits
    Leaves
    Roots
    Sap/Juice
    Seeds
    Stems