Euonymus alatus 'Compactus'
Euonymus alatus, commonly called winged euonymus, burning bush, winged burning bush or winged spindle tree, is a dense, mounded, spreading, flat-topped, multi-stemmed shrub that is particularly noted for its fiery red fall foliage color. It is native to forests, woodlands and scrub areas in eastern Russia, Japan, China and Korea. It was introduced into the U.S. around 1860 as an ornamental, and over time has become an extremely popular shrub for homes, commercial properties and along highways. This shrub will mature over time to 15-20' tall, but is often pruned shorter. Elliptic to obovate, crenulate to serrulate, green leaves (to 3” long) turn bright red in fall. Fall color can be spectacular. Small, yellowish-green flowers appear in May but are not showy. Small fruits (1/3” red capsules) ripen in fall. Fruit capsules split open when ripe to reveal the tiny seeds (each encased in a fleshy orange-red aril). Seeds are attractive to certain birds who eat and distribute them. Greenish-brown stems have distinctive corky ridges ("wings" as used in the common name). Corky-winged stems are more noticeable in winter after leaf drop. Winged euonymus has escaped plantings and naturalized in at least 21 eastern and mid-western states. In some areas, it is now considered to be a threat to native plants because of its ability to establish itself in woodlands, forests, fields, roadsides and disturbed areas where, if conditions are favorable, it will out-compete native plants to form dense thickets.Genus name is an ancient Greek name referring to plants of this genus.Specific epithet means winged.'Compactus' is a popular burning bush cultivar. It is a deciduous shrub which is not all that "compact" since it typically grows in a mound to 10' tall with a slightly larger spread, though it can easily be kept shorter by pruning. The corky ridges are absent or very reduced in size on the stems of 'Compactus'. For a truly compact burning bush, see Euonymus alatus 'Rudy Haag' which typically grows from 3-5' tall.