Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Landscape - Know Your Invasive Species 4, Burning Bush

This is the fourth in a series on recognizing invasive species in Delaware. This post is on Burning Bush.

Burning Bush, Euonymus alatus, Bittersweet Family (Celastraceae)

Form: Deciduous Shrub
Flowers: Apr–Jun
Fruits: Sep–winter
Native Range: China, Korea, Japan
Introduction: 1860s as ornamental (E. alatus) 1907 as ground cover (E. fortunei)

Mid-Atlantic Range &Habitats: Burning Bush is found in forests, streambanks and hedgerows,mostly near heavily populated areas.

Ecological Impacts: Long planted as ornamentals, this species are relatively new invaders. The first populations of of Burning Bush (Euonymus alatus) invading natural areas were found in the 1960s and 1970s. This species tolerates heavy shade and forms dense shrub thickets in both disturbed and intact forest. The prolific fruit is eaten by birds, which disperse the seed to new locations.

Identification: Growth habit is a deciduous upright shrub. Burning Bush has winged stems, four-parted flowers and fruits, and distinctive purplish capsule segments that curl back on themselves after opening, leaving the red arils exposed.

Burning bush invading a wooded area. Photo by Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut, Bugwood.org.

Information from "Mistaken Identity - Invasive Plants and their Native Look-alikes, an Identification Guide for the Mid-Atlantic" by Matthew Sarver, Amanda Treher, Lenny Wilson, Robert Naczi, and Faith B. Kuehn. You can download the publication at:

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