Euonymus europaeus L.
Family: Celastraceae
European Spindletree
Euonymus europaeus image
Shrub or tree 3.5 - 9 m tall, 3 - 7.5 m wide Leaves: opposite, short-stalked, dull dark green, 2.5 - 8.5 cm long, 0.8 - 3 cm wide, elliptic or narrow oblong to inversely egg-shaped with a wedge-shaped base and pointed tip, round-toothed. Leaves turn yellowish green to reddish purple in fall. Flowers: borne in long-stalked clusters of three to seven, yellowish green, 6 - 10 mm wide, with four petals and yellow anthers. Fruit: a yellow to pink capsule, 1 - 2 cm wide, deeply four-lobed, splitting to reveal a white seed covered by an orange coating (aril). Twigs: slender, greenish red, becoming grayish brown. Form: narrow and upright, becoming rounded with age.

Similar species: Similar Euonymus species of the Chicago Region can be distinguished by a few key characteristics. Euonymus alata has distinctly corky, two- to four-winged stems. Euonymus atropurpurea has purple flowers, purple to red fruits with bright red seeds, and leaves with hairy undersides. Euonymus bungeanum has yellowish green flowers with purple anthers, pink to yellowish fruits with pinkish orange coated seeds, and leaf stalks over 12 mm long. Euonymus hamiltoniana has greenish white flowers with purple anthers, pink to purple fruits with orange to red coated seeds, and leaf stalks less than 12 mm long.

Flowering: Mid to late May

Habitat and ecology: Euonymus europaea was introduced from Europe and western Asia and escapes occasionally in the western part of the Chicago Region. Timber Ridge Forest Preserve in DuPage County has an established spontaneous population growing in disturbed woods. The species has escaped throughout most of the eastern U.S. and is tolerant of many soils and full sun to partial shade.

Occurence in the Chicago region: non-native

Etymology: Euonymus is the ancient Greek name for the genus. Europaea means "from Europe."

Author: The Morton Arboretum