Burning Bush or Winged Euonymus

Fact SheetTreatmentEuonymus alatus

Images of this species:

Common look-alikes:



Euonymus alatus is a deciduous shrub, up to 20 feet 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.


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


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


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.


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.


Burning bush has long been a favorite horticultural plant.


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.
  • Always read and follow pesticide label directions. Application of pesticides may require a certification from the Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets. The Agency website provides information on what applicator certification is needed.

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


Photo Credit

5476807, 5476805, Chris Evans, Univeristy of Illinois, Bugwood.org

5457780,5270099, 5457645,5457756, 5457684,  Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut, Bugwood.org

5518039, Richard Gardner, UMES, Bugwood.org

Information Credit

Video: Purdue University Extension, ID Burning Bush

GoBotany, Burning Bush

Center for Invasive Species and Forest Health, Winged burning bush