Burning Bush Marshall D'Arcy

Family:     Celastraceae (Staff and Spindle vine family)

Duration:  Perennial

Height:     275-367cm (9-12 ft)

Blooming: May


Burning Bush

Euonymus alatus (Thunb.) Siebold

Stem: is brown to green with conspicuous corky wings. 

Flowers: are small, greenish-yellow flowers which form in leaf axils (where the leaves meet the stem). Each flower has four petals, sepals, and stamens. The small flowers are about .8 cm (1/3 in) across.  

Leaves: smooth, fine toothed, egg-shaped, elliptical leaves. They are dark green and taper to the tip.  In autumn, the foliage is a brilliant red. The leaf blade can grow up to 6 cm in length. Leaf arrangement is opposite.

Fruit: four-parted angular pink to purplish fruit splits to reveal a red-orange, fleshy coating around seeds.

Sun: Full sun to shade

Ideal Conditions: Open to shaded, moist to dry areas.

Season Change: a dull green throughout the year, with brilliantly red colored leaves briefly in autumn and unique structure with the corky wings in winter.

What to plant instead:

  • Black Chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa)*

  • Highbush Blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum)

    • If your soils are right.  It needs acidic soils.​

  • Eastern Wahoo (Euonymus atropurpureus)​​

Burning Bush Flower D'Arcy
Burning Bush Barker Woods Michigan City

Comments: Burning Bush, also called Winged Burning Bush, is native to Northeastern Asia and was introduced around 1860.  Burning Bush is still a popular plant sold in the nursery trade. In Northwest Indiana, it has become very aggressive forming dense thickets in disturbed areas and in undisturbed forests. It has been put in the company of other " troublesome non-native" plants by the Indiana DNR.

If you do not think your shrub flowers, keep an eye on it through May.  Its flowers are ambiguously green and numerous.  If you have this plant, you should remove it.  It has become invasive in our natural areas.  It invades from its fruit and rhizomes (underground stems).  It is prohibited in Massachusetts and listed as invasive in Connecticut.  It is also prohibited to import, sell, transport, plant or transplant in the Town of Porter, Indiana.

If you have questions about control options for removing burning bush on your property, see the National Park Service's recommendations.  

Etymology: The species name, alatus, is derived from the Latin word for "winged" referring to the corky wing like structures on the stem.  

photo by Marshall W. D'Arcy

photo by Nathanael Pilla

photo by Marshall W. D'Arcy

photo by Scott Namestnik

Species Present and Exotic