European spindletree (Euonymus europaeus)

European spindletree Common Names: European Euonymus, Common Spindle Tree

Description: Popular ornamental plant due to its bright pink or purple fruits and attractive autumn coloring. Fruit is poisonous but has been used medicinally.

Habit: Large deciduous shrub or small tree that can reach a height of 30 feet. Rounded in form with a fast growth rate.

Leaves: Opposite, simple, elliptical, 2.5-4 inches long, finely serrated, long pointed, green above and paler, and possibly pubescent below.

Stems: Thin, greenish-brown to reddish brown in color, shallow longitudinal splits; becoming irregularly shreddy-ridged with age. Twigs are slender, green turning brown with age, may be 4 sided, leaf scars are light brown and obvious against green twig; buds are green and sharp pointed.

Flowers: Perfect, inconspicuous (1/3 in. - 1/2 in. across), 4 greenish/yellow-white petals with purple anthers, appearing in late spring in multiple branched clusters.

Fruit and seeds: Dry capsules that are lobed and 0.5 in. to 0.75 in. across. Showy pinkish/red/purple in color with red/orange seeds that mature in the fall.

Habitat: Native to Europe and western Asia. Can be found in man-made or disturbed habitats, floodplains, forest edges, shrublands or thickets.

Reproduction: By cuttings or by seed.

Similar species: Winged burning bush (Euonymus alatus).

Credits: The information provided in this factsheet was gathered from the UCONN College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources Plant Database and Virginia Tech Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation (VT Dendrology).

Individual species images that appear with a number in a black box are courtesy of the network ( Individual photo author credits may not be included due to the small display size of the images and subsequent difficulty of reading the provided text. All other images appear courtesy of Google (

Common Name:

European spindletree

Scientific Name:

Euonymus europaeus







USDA Symbol: