Euonymus atropurpureus: spindle [wahoo, arrow-wood]

Family: Celastraceae [bittersweet], part of the salicoid group.

Form: large thinly colonial shrub, with stems like miniature trees.

Range: eastern North America; widely scattered in Kentucky but uncommon to rare in less fertile regions.

Habitat: thin woods and edges on rich moist soil; usually reduced in farmland and slow to recover, especially with continual browsing.

Consumers: fruit dispersed rapidly by birds when the red arils (“hearts”) are exposed in the fall; leaves often eaten by various animals, from large browsers to the introduced euonymus scale.

Growing notes: seed can germinate well after two winters, but plants are often slow growing and beset by herbivores; full sun seems to promote infestation by the scale, but spindle can become a highly attractive ornamental plant in partial shade.

Spindle seeds
Spindle seeds. Image:


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