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Winged Burningbush Euonymus alata (Euonymus alatus)


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Winged Burningbush
© James H. Miller, USDA Forest Service/

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Alternate name: Winged Euonymus

Family: Celastraceae, Staff Tree view all from this family

Description Introduced. A broad shrub with stiff, winged branches and brilliant fall foliage.
Height: to 12-18' (3.6-5.4 m).
Leaves: 1-3" (2.5-7.5 cm) long; opposite; finely toothed; ovate, pointed; green to red.
Flowers: inconspicuous; 4 petals; greenish to yellowish.
Fruit: purplish red; splits open to reveal red, berrylike seeds.
Branches: greenish to brown, with brown, corklike "wings" along length.

Habitat Disturbed habitats, roadsides, pastures, open woods, woodland edges, and coastal scrub.

Range Asia native; escaped from cultivation and naturalized in the East, with reports from New Hampshire to South Carolina, Kentucky, and Iowa, and in Montana in the West.

Discussion This shrub has been widely planted in the eastern United States for its fiery-red autumn foliage, in private gardens as well as roadsides and other public lands. Its seeds are eaten and dispersed by birds and other animals, and this has contributed to its spread. Now widely naturalized and invading natural habitats, Winged Burningbush is considered a noxious weed. Although it continues to be promoted by the nursery trade, its potential for destroying native habitats makes it a poor choice for the garden.