Burning bush

Burning bush in fall color.
Burning bush is a popular large shrub common in yards and gardens throughout North America. This Asian shrub is invasive and should not be planted. It is known for its bright red fall color. It has invasive traits that enable it to spread aggressively. This shrub is under observation and may be listed on official invasive species lists in the near future.

Botanical name:

Euonymus alatus

All Common Names:

Burning bush; burningbush; burning-bush; winged euonymus

Family (English):

Staff tree

Family (Botanic):


Tree or Plant Type:

  • Shrub


  • Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)

Native Locale:

  • Non-native

Landscape Uses:

  • Hedge,
  • Massing,
  • Mixed border,
  • Screen,
  • Shade tree,
  • Specimen,
  • Windbreak

Size Range:

  • Large shrub (more than 8 feet),
  • Medium shrub (5-8 feet)

Mature Height:

15 to 20 feet high

Mature Width:

15 to 20 feet wide

Light Exposure:

  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily),
  • Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)

Hardiness Zones:

  • Zone 4,
  • Zone 5 (Chicago),
  • Zone 6,
  • Zone 7,
  • Zone 8

Soil Preference:

  • Moist, well-drained soil

Acid Soils:

  • Tolerant

Alkaline Soils:

  • Prefers

Salt Spray:

  • Tolerant

Soil Salt:

  • Tolerant

Drought Conditions:

  • Intolerant

Poor Drainage:

  • Intolerant

Season of Interest:

  • Early fall,
  • Mid fall

Flower Color & Fragrance:

  • Inconspicuous

Shape or Form:

  • Broad,
  • Multi-stemmed,
  • Oval,
  • Round

Growth Rate:

  • Slow

More Information:

Tree & Plant Care

A popular dense, rounded shrub because of the bright red fall color.
Tolerant of wide range of soil pH, best in full sun but tolerant of shade.
Well drained soil a must.
Because of invasive tendencies, burning bush is not recommended.

Disease, pests, and problems

Scale, root rots in wet soils, spider mites

Disease, pest, and problem resistance

Tolerant of black walnut toxcitity.

Native geographic location and habitat

Northeastern Asia to central China

Attracts birds, pollinators, or wildlife

Birds are attracted to seed and spread them freely.
It has invasive traits that enable it to spread aggressively.  

Bark color and texture 

Branches and twigs are green to brown with 2 to 4 corky wings along stems.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

Opposite to sub-opposite, 1 to 3 inches long and 1 1/4 inches wide, sharply serrated margins.
Medium to dark green turn a brilliant red in the fall.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

Tiny, yellow-green in early May.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions

A  fleshy 1/4-inch long red to orange aril often lost withing the foliage.


Location of Euonymus alatus (Burning bush) at the Arboretum

We do not seem to have this in our living collection.