Burning Bush







Burning Bush

(Euonymus alatus)

Interesting Information About Plant: 

     Euonymus alata is native to Asia and has been introduced to the United States from New England to the Gulf Coast.  The shrub becomes a nuisance because of the ease with which its seeds are spread, the readiness of germination, its adaptability to various soils, and its tolerance of full shade.  It is a threat to natural areas because it shades out native herbs and crowds out native shrubs.  Birds eat the fruit and disperse the seeds.

     The plants roots have been used for a wide variety of medicinal reasons. They can be used to lower fevers and kill various infections, but can cause women to have strong uterine contractions that could abort a pregnancy.  Burning Bush is said to also produce a calming effect on the gastrointestinal tract and can also be used as a topical treatment for a variety of skin ailments. Although the Burning Bush can be beneficiary to the health, the amount in which it is used should be monitored, as it can be toxic in large doses. The plant is still seen as the symbol of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland and, for the non-religious, as a way to brighten up a fall landscape with its brilliant red leaves.

Common Name(s):  Winged Burning Bush, Burning Bush, Spindle Tree, Wahoo

Scientific Name: Euonymus alatus (Thunb.) Sieb.

Family Name (Scientific and Common): Celastraceae  (Bittersweet Family)

Continent of Origin: Asia

Plant Growth Habit: Woody Shrub

Height at Maturity: More than 10 Feet

Life Span: Perennial

Seasonal Habit: Deciduous Perennial

Growth Habitat: Partial Sun

Manner of Culture: Landscape Shrub-Tree

Thorns on Younger Stem: No

Cross Section of Younger Stem: Winged

Stem (or Trunk) Diameter: Between The Diameter of a Pencil and a Broom-Handle 

Produces Brownish Bark: Yes

Bark Peeling in Many Areas: No

Characteristics of Mature (Brownish) Bark: Patchy Bark

Type of Leaf: Flat, Thin Leaf

Length of Leaf (or Leaflet): Less than the Length of a Credit Card

Leaf Complexity: Simple

Edge of Leaf: Finely Serrated

Leaf Arrangement: Opposite

Leaf has Petiole: Very Short Petiole

Patterns of Main-Veins on Leaf (or Leaflet): Pinnate

Leaf Hairiness: Somewhat Fuzzy on Bottom of Leaf

Color of Foliage in Summer: Green

Change in Color of Foliage in October: Changes to Bright Reddish-Orange

Flowering Season: Summer

Flowers:  in Loose Group 

Type of Flower: Colorful Flower

Color of Flower: Yellow-Green 

Shape of Individual Flower: Radially Symmetrical

Size of Individual Flower: Smaller than a Quarter

Sexuality: Hermaphroditic Flower

Size of Fruit: Smaller than a Quarter

Fruit Fleshiness: Dry; Dehisces to expose Bright Red Seeds (which persist on plant)

Shape of Fruit: Capsule, but appears winged when seed dehisce

Color of Fruit at Maturity: Red Seed is visible

Fruit Desirable to Birds or Squirrels: Yes, especially birds

Louisville Plants That Are Most Easily Confused With This One: Other Euonymus,

Unique Morphological Features of Plant: Cork "wings" run along both sides of the stem; Leaves turn scarlet red in Autumn

Poisonous: None of Plant

Pestiness (weedy, hard to control): Yes, seeds easily spread by birds


Page prepared by:

Michael Gayhart,  Beth Franks, & Wesley Thomas   November 2005

Information - 502.452.8000
© Bellarmine University, Louisville, KY 2002-2004