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Extension > Garden > Yard and Garden > Trees and Shrubs > Burning Bush

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Burning Bush (Euonymus alatus)

Kathy Zuzek and Beth Berlin

Plant description

Mature height: 5 to 15'
Mature width: 5' to 15'
Growth rate: Slow
Plant form: Rounded, mounded
Deciduous or evergreen: Deciduous
Native range: Eastern Russia, China, Japan, and Korea
Native to Minnesota: No
Invasive in Minnesota: No

Culture

Light: Full sun to full shade
Soil texture: Sand, loam, clay
Soil pH: Prefers slightly acidic (6.1-6.5), tolerates higher
Soil moisture: Prefers moist, well-drained soils. Adaptable to others except for poorly drained
Hardiness zone: 4-8
Pests and stresses: None serious. Visit What's wrong with my plant? – Euonymus for a list of the most common burning bush pests in Minnesota.
Other: Drought and Japanese beetle tolerant

Burning Bush in the landscape

Burning bush is a shrub or small tree grown for its bright fall color in the warmer Zone 4 & 5 portions of Minnesota. It is used in border, hedge, screen, mass, or specimen landscape plantings. With the exception of poorly-drained soils, it is adaptable to many soil textures, soil moisture and drainage levels, and soil pH levels.

The main season of interest for burning busy is autumn. In spring, 1-3" elliptic leaves are produced on green stems that have very noticeable tan or brown corky "wings". Small, non-ornamental, 4-petaled, yellow-green flowers are produced in June. In fall, 1/3" seed capsules split to expose orange or red fruit that are often masked by foliage. During autumn, foliage turns a brilliant red on plants grown in full sun and a more muted red or pink on shade-grown plants.

Burning bush was introduced into the United States in the 1860's from Asia. Unfortunately, this species has become invasive in many eastern and Midwestern states where it is outcompeting native vegetation in pastures, prairies, and woodlands. This species is also potentially invasive in Minnesota and planting of E. alatus near woodlands, prairies, and pastures should be avoided.

Some cultivars grown in Minnesota:

house with two bright red bushes.

Kathy Zuzek, UMN Extension

Bright red autumn foliage

red bush amongst trees.

Kathy Zuzek, UMN Extension

Muted fall color on shade-grown plant

close up of green bark and leaves.

Julie Weisenhorn, UMN Extension

Corky, winged bark on branches

tiny flowers amongst leaves.

L. Mehrhoff, Bugwood

Foliage and inconspicuous flowers

red almond shaped fruit amongst leaves.

L. Mehrhoff, Bugwood

Fruit

Cultivar selected for:
Cultivar Rose/pink fall foliage Brilliant red fall foliage Compact growth Improved winter hardiness
'Compactus' X X X
Fire Ball® X X X
'Grove Compactus'   X X X
'Rudy Haag' X   X X
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