Winged Spindle Tree or Burning Bush, Euonymus alatus
Celastraceae or Bittersweet Family


Moderate sized, much branched shrub with corky wings on the branches. Leaves are opposite each other, egg-shaped, with a long pointed tip. In the fall, they turn brilliant red in sunny locations and pink in shadier spots. Flowers are small, inconspicuous, yellow-green, with 4 petals. Fruits are reddish brown capsules that split open and fold back to reveal bright red berries. Blooms in late spring, mature fruits are found in mid-autumn into winter.

A showy exotic grown mostly for its fall foliage and peculiar wings. It often escapes and is somewhat invasive. In Wildwood it tends to be mostly on the western slope and along Wildwood Drive.

The corky wings on the twigs provide conclusinve identification. Asiatic bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus) is a vine with rather similar fruits, but they are yellow, splitting open to reveal a reddish-orange segmented berry. Other native and exotic spindle trees are found wild or cultivated in Virginia, but only this one has been found in Wildwood.

Winged Stems
Flowering plant   Flowers
Bark Autumn Leaves Autumn Leaf

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