Winged euonymus is a deciduous shrub that can grow to 8.2 feet 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. The branches of Euonymus alata are gray-brown in color. The leaves are 1-3 inches long, 0.5-1.25 inches 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 0.5 inches long. The ovary walls are red-purple, and split open to reveal up to 4 seeds with waxy red-orange arils.
Winged euonymus can be located in habitats ranging from full sun to full shade. It can also tolerate a variety of soil types and pH levels. It grows well in well-drained soils and does not tolerate water-logged soils as readily. It is found not only in open or disturbed areas but also in forests as understory plants.
History and Introduction
Euonymus alata is native to northeastern Asia, Japan and central China. It was introduced as an ornamental shrub around 1860 and is planted in all types of landscaping—highways, malls, post offices, bridge abutments and private homes. It is through its use as a popular shrub that it was first introduced into this area.
Winged euonymus plants have been observed in dense thickets, threatening native plants by crowding and shading. Below the plant there is often a seed shadow where hundreds of seedlings can be found. It threatens a variety of habitats such as forests, coastal scrublands, fields and prairies.
The seeds and fruit of winged euonymus are bird dispersed. This plant also continues to be used as an ornamental, thus continuing its spread in the region.
Hand-pull seedlings up to 2 feet tall; cut or dig out larger plants; root systems can be removed with a spading fork or pull with a weed wrench; ground out stump and paint with glyphosate immediately after cutting.
It can be effectively controlled using any of several readily available general use herbicides such as glyphosatea widely used herbicide that can kill certain weeds and grasses, it works by blocking an enzyme essential for plant growth, imazapyra non-selective herbicide used for the control of a broad range of weeds including terrestrialgrasses and broadleaved herbs, woody species, and riparian and emergent aquatic species, or triclopyrherbicide used to control both broadleaf and woody plants. Cut stumps can be sprayed or painted with glyphosate. Follow label and state requirements.
Burning Bush, Winged Burning Bush, Winged Wahoo, Winged Spindletree, Corky Spindletree
Northeastern Asia, Japan, and Central China
Cork Spindletree (Euonymus phellomanus)