Taxon Details: Euonymus alatus (Thunb.) Siebold
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Celastraceae (Magnoliophyta)
Scientific Name:

Euonymus alatus (Thunb.) Siebold
Accepted Name:

This name is currently accepted.

Author: Scott A. Mori

Description: Shrubs or small trees. Stems winged (=alate), green between wings. Leaves red or reddish pink in the fall; petioles short, 1-2 mm long; blades obovate, 2.5-4 cm long, the margins serrate. Flowers green except for yellow anthers; petals 4, obovate; stamens 4, alternate with sepals. Fruit capsules. Seeds surrounded by red aril.

Etymology: Refers to the alate (= wings) of the stems. Look carefully because not all of the stems are winged.

Common name: Burning bush

Description: 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.

Distribution: From New England to northern Florida, and west to Iowa and Missouri, also reported in Montana.

Ecology: Abandoned fields, early successional forest, edge, pasture, planted forest, roadside, etc.. It is located in habitats ranging from full sun to sull shade, and can also tolerate a variety of soil types and PH level. It grows well in well-drained soils and does nor tolerate water-logged soil as readily. It is found not only in open or disturbed areas but also in forests as understory plants.

Phenology: Flower from April to May; fruit from September to October.

Origin: Northeastern Asia, Japan and central China. This species was introduced as an ornamental shrub around 1860 and is planted in all types of landscaping.

Conservation status: Invasive species

Flora and Monograph Treatment(s):

Euonymus alatus (Thunb.) Siebold: [Book] Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.