Euonymus europaeus
Weedy and Potentially Invasive: Do Not Plant
Common Name: European spindletree 
Type: Deciduous shrub
Family: Celastraceae
Native Range: Europe to western Asia
Zone: 4 to 7
Height: 12.00 to 20.00 feet
Spread: 10.00 to 16.00 feet
Bloom Time: April to June
Bloom Description: Yellowish-green
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Hedge, Naturalize
Flower: Insignificant
Leaf: Good Fall
Fruit: Showy
This plant has been found to be weedy and potentially invasive and should not be planted in Midwestern gardens.


Easily grown in average, medium moisture, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. Tolerates close to full shade, but usually at the expense of diminished fall color quality. This is an adaptable shrub that tolerates a wide range of soils except for wet, poorly-drained ones. Prefers alkaline soils. Plants appreciate consistent and even moisture, particularly when grown in full sun locations. Plants often struggle in the southeastern U.S. south of USDA Zone 7.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Euonymus europaeus, commonly called European spindletree, is a deciduous shrub or small tree that is native from Europe to western Asia. In the U. S., it has escaped cultivation and spread (sometimes invasively) by self-seeding, particularly in some areas of the Northeast. This is a spindly tangled shrub-tree with an irregular crown. Best ornamental features are its showy fall fruit and sometimes superb fall leaf color. It grows, often rapidly, to 12-20' (less frequently to 30') tall. Although slender in youth, it typically matures to a rounded form. Small, yellowish-green flowers (1/2" across) bloom in 3-5 flowered cymes from late April to June. Flowers are not very showy. Flowers are followed by fruits which are extremely showy. Pinkish-red dehiscent capsules split open in fall to reveal tiny seeds, each of which is encased in a fleshy orange aril. Seeds are attractive to certain birds who eat and distribute them. Ovate to oblong-lanceolate, crenate-serrate, glabrous, dull dark green leaves (to 3" long) turn variable shades of red to orange to purple in fall. Spindletree wood was once used to make spindles.

Genus name is an ancient Greek name referring to plants of this genus.

Specific epithet means European.


No serious insect or disease problems. Euonymus scale can be a significant problem and should be treated if it appears. Watch for aphids. Possible disease problems include twig blight, anthracnose, crown gall, leaf spot and mildew.


Foundations, shrub borders, screen or hedge. Woodland gardens. Specimen/accent.