Content Detail

Spindle-tree is an European species of euonymus with attractive fall color and interesting seed capsules. Birds are attracted to the fruit and tend to spread them freely to the point where this plant has become weedy and invasive in some areas of the United States.   

  • Family (English) Staff-tree
  • Family (botanic) Celastraceae
  • Tree or plant type Tree, Shrub
  • Foliage Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
  • Native locale Non-native
  • Size range Large shrub (more than 8 feet), Compact tree (10-15 feet), Small tree (15-25 feet)
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily), Partial sun / shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 4, Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7
  • Soil preference Moist, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances Alkaline soil, Occasional drought
  • Season of interest early fall
  • Flower color and fragrance Inconspicuous
  • Shape or form Narrow, Round, Upright
  • Growth rate Fast, Moderate

Size and form:

An upright narrow shrub or tree reaching 12 to 25 feet high and 10 to 20 feet wide becoming more rounded with age.

Native geographic location and habitat:

It is native to Europe and Asia.

Attracts birds & butterflies:

Birds easily spread the seeds and this plant is becoming invasive in some areas.

Bark color and texture:

The bark is gray and the stems are green.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture:

The simple, opposite, 1 to 3 inch leaves are oval with finely toothed edges. They are dark green throughout the growing season and vary from yellow to reddish-purple in the fall.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size:

The inconspicuous yellow green flowers have four petals.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions:

Birds are attracted to and spread the attractive, showy pink to reddish capsules that open to reveal orange seeds. It is invasive in some areas of the United States.

Plant care:

Spindle-tree requires well-drained soil. Birds easily spread the seeds and this plant is becoming invasive in some parts of the United States.

List of pests, diseases and tolerances:

Euonymus scale is a problem on spindle-tree.

Redcap spindle tree (Euonymus europaeus ‘Redcap’):

This cultivar yields a large crop of persistent, bright red capsules with orange seeds. The medium green leaves turn reddish-purple in the fall.


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