Burning Bush or Winged Euonymus

Fact SheetTreatmentEuonymus alatus

Invader Images

    • Burning bush has oppositely arranged leaves, that are elliptic or oval in shape, with a finely toothed edge, that turn red/purple in the fall
      Burning bush has oppositely arranged leaves, that are elliptic or oval in shape, with a finely toothed edge, that turn red/purple in the fall
    • Burning bush, or winged euonymus, get's the nickname from its corky "winged" bark
      Burning bush, or winged euonymus, get's the nickname from its corky "winged" bark
    • Burning bush infestation
      Burning bush infestation

Common Look-alikes

    • Invasive Spindle-tree is also a Euonymus, with a pink capsule and orange/red fruit inside
      Invasive Spindle-tree is also a Euonymus, with a pink capsule and orange/red fruit inside

Identification

Appearance

Euonymus alatus is a deciduous shrub, up to 20 ft. (6.1 m) in height, which invades forests throughout the eastern United States. Two to four corky ridges often form along the length of young stems, though they may not appear in shaded areas or closed canopies.

Foilage

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

Flowers

The flowers are inconspicuous, are greenish yellow and have four petals. Flowers develop from late April to June and lay flat against the leaves.

Fruit

The fruit which appears from September to October are reddish capsules that split to reveal orange fleshy seeds.

Check out the downloadable treatment sheet above.

Biology

Ecological Threat

Burning bush (Euonymus alatus) spreads from yards to forests and fields after birds consume the fruit and carry the seeds across long distances. Fruits left uneaten fall to the ground, creating a “seed shadow” around the plant’s base.

Origin

Burning bush has long been a favorite horticultural plant.

Habitat

Forest edges, meadows, fields, disturbed areas, shrublands

Life Cycle

Winged euonymus primarily reproduces by seed but it can spread through vegetative means by root suckering. The 4-petaled flowers are inconspicuous and appear in May to early June.  The fruit is a cluster of showy pods, usually four found in the leaf axils.  Immature fruits are green that ripens to a purplish outer side that splits to reveal seeds with bright, red-orange coatings in the fall.

Management Options

This species is considered Quarantined: Class B Noxious Weed

Check out the downloadable treatment sheet above.

Mechanical Management

Hand pull: Any time of year when the ground is soft, especially after a rain, hand pull small plants by the base of the stem. Be sure to pull up the entire root    system. Hang from a branch to prevent re-rooting. For larger plants, use a Weed Wrench™. Continue to monitor the area every year for new seedlings.

Cut stump: Cut plants back in the fall or winter. Wrap a few layers of burlap or thick plastic over the stump and tie tightly with twine or rope. Check covered stumps periodically and cut back any new growth.

Chemical Management

Cut stump: Cut the plant 4 inches above the ground. Use a drip bottle to apply an 18-21% glyphosate solution to the stump within one hour of cutting. This is best done in late summer through winter when plants are transporting resources to their root systems.

Low volume foliar spray:  This method is used for dense populations and best left to a contractor. In the fall, when native plants are losing their leaves, spray a 2% glyphosate solution on the entire leaf surface of the plant. In order to avoid drift to native plants, spray only on calm days.

  • Be careful not to damage or kill nearby native plants when conducting management work. And when using herbicides, always follow the instructions on the label.

How You Can Help

 

Native/non-invasive alternatives

      Common winterberry (Ilex verticillata), American witch-hazel (Hamamelis virginiana

Native Perennials and Shrubs for Vermont Gardens​​

Choose native plants

Alternatives to Common Invasive Plants and Characteristics of Select Alternatives

Citations

Photo Credit

Winged Euonymus, 5457780, Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut

Winged Euonymus bark, 5476807, Chris Evans, Univeristy of Illinois

Winged Euonymus Infestation, 5270099, Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut

Information Credit

Video: Purdue University Extension, ID Burning Bush

GoBotany, Burning Bush

Center for Invasive Species and Forest Health, Winged burning bush