Euonymus alatus, Winged Burning Bush

Gardens & Landscapes, Invasive Species, Extension Master Gardener February 09, 2012 Print Friendly and PDF

Invasive Species: Euonymus alatus, Winged Burning Bush

Winged burning bush is an invasive deciduous shrub, up to 20 ft (6.1 m) in height, which invades forests throughout the Eastern United States. Occasionally, four corky ridges appear along the length of young stems. The opposite, dark green leaves are less than 2 in. (5 cm) long, smooth, and rounded and taper at the tips. The leaves turn a bright crimson to purplish color in the fall. The inconspicuous flowers are greenish yellow and have four petals. Flowers develop in the spring and lie flat against the leaves. Fruit are reddish capsules that split to reveal orange, fleshy seeds. Winged burning bush can invade a variety of disturbed habitats, including forest edges, old fields, and roadsides. Birds readily disperse the seeds, allowing for many long dispersal events. Once established, the plant can form dense thickets that displace native vegetation. Winged burning bush is native to northeastern Asia and was introduced in North America in the 1860s for ornamental purposes. Currently, it is sold and planted as an ornamental plant or roadside hedge.

What are invasive species, and why should we be concerned about them? 


Taxonomy: Scientific and Common Names for This Species

Celastrales > Celastraceae > Euonymus alatus (Thunb.) Sieb.

Synonym(s): burning bush, winged euonymus, winged spindle tree

Euonymus alatus - USDA PLANTS Profile

Distribution Maps

winged burning bush - The reported distribution of this invasive species across the United States (Source: Invasive Plant Atlas of the United States)

Up-to-the-minute distribution maps and why they are important 

Reporting This Invasive Species

What is the best way to report the occurrence of an invasive species? 

 How to report an invasive species sighting to EDDMapS - Early Detection & Distribution Mapping System

EDDMapS - Report an invasive species to EDDMapS.

County Extension Offices - Find your county Extension office on this map provided by USDA.

How to Identify

This invasive species can be identified by looking for the characteristics described in the paragraphs that follow.

Shrub

Winged burning bush is a deciduous shrub that grows up to 20 ft (6.1 m) in height. Occasionally, four corky ridges appear along the length of young stems.

Paul Wray, Iowa State University,  bugwood.org Barry Rice, sarracenia.com, bugwood.org

Foliage

The opposite, dark green leaves are less than 2 in. (5 cm) long, smooth, and rounded and taper at the tips. The leaves turn a bright crimson to purplish color in the fall.

James H. Miller, USDA Forest Service,  bugwood.org James H. Miller, USDA Forest Service,   bugwood.org

Flower

The inconspicuous flowers are greenish yellow and have four petals. Flowers develop in the spring and lie flat against the leaves.

 
Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut,  bugwood.org bugwood.org

Fruit

Fruit are reddish capsules that split to reveal orange, fleshy seeds.

Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut,   bugwood.org Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut,   bugwood.org

Native Euonymus Species That Resemble Winged Burning Bush

 

Euonymus americana, strawberry bush - Images at invasive.org

Karan A. Rawlins, University of Georgia, bugwood.org Karan A. Rawlins, University of Georgia,   bugwood.org

 

Euonymus obovatus, running strawberry bush - Images at invasive.org

 
Joseph O'Brien, USDA Forest Service,  bugwood.org bugwood.org

 

Additional Images for Winged Burning Bush

winged burning bush - Images at invasive.org

 

Learning Resources for Winged Burning Bush

Euonymus alatus Identification Card - U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Euonymus alatus Fact Sheet - U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

 

Additional Information, Biology, Control and Management Resources

Control and management recommendations vary according to individual circumstances. Location, habitat, weather, and a variety of other conditions are factors that help determine the best treatment choice. To find the safest and most effective treatment for your situation, consult your state's land-grant institution. If you will use chemicals as part of the control process, always refer to the product label.

United States Land-Grant University System - Find your Land-Grant University's College of Agriculture, University Cooperative Extension Service, or other related partner on this map provided by USDA.

Fact Sheet - Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Nonnative Invasive Plants of Southern Forests - USDA Forest Service

Plant Invaders of Mid-Atlantic Natural Areas - National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Invasive Plant Information Sheet - Connecticut Invasive Plant Working Group

Euonymus alatus - Global Invasive Species Database

Element Stewardship Abstract - The Nature Conservancy

Invasive Plant Atlas of New England - University of Connecticut

Weed of the Week - USDA Forest Service


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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.