TREES & plants

Spindle tree

Spindle tree, a European species of euonymus, has beautiful fruit. The spindle tree has become weedy and invasive in some areas.   

This plant has some cultivated varieties. Go to list of cultivars.


Botanical name: 
Euonymus europaeus
All Common Names: 
Spindle Tree, European Spindle Tree, European Euonymus, Common Spindle Tree
Family (English): 
Family (Botanic): 
Tree or Plant Type: 
  • Shrub
  • Tree
Native Locale: 
  • Non-native
Landscape Uses: 
  • Utility
  • Massing
  • Mixed border
  • Screen
Size Range: 
  • Small tree (15-25 feet)
  • Compact tree (10-15 feet)
  • Large shrub (more than 8 feet)
Light Exposure: 
  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
  • Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
Hardiness Zones: 
  • Zone 4
  • Zone 5
  • Zone 6
  • Zone 7
Soil Preference: 
  • Moist, well-drained soil
  • Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
Season of Interest: 
  • Early fall
Flower Color & Fragrance: 
  • Inconspicuous
Shape or Form: 
  • Narrow
  • Round
  • Upright
Growth Rate: 
  • Moderate
  • Fast
More Information: 

Size and Form

12 to 25 feet high and 10 to 20 feet wide; upright becoming more rounded with age.

Tree & Plant Care

Requires well drained soil.
Birds easily spread the seeds; this plant is becoming invasive in some areas.

Disease, pests and problems

Euonymus scale

Native geographic location and habitat

Native to Europe and Asia.

Bark color and texture 

Bark is gray; stems are green.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

Simple, opposite leaves; oval with finely toothed edges; 1 to 3 inches long; dark green.
Fall color is variable, from yellow to reddish-purple.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

Inconspicuous; yellow green flowers with four petals.

Spindle Tree (Euonymus europaeus)Spindle Tree (Euonymus europaeus)photo: John Hagstrom

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions

This plant yields attractive, showy pink to reddish capsules that open to reveal orange seeds.

Cultivars and their differences 

Redcap (Euonymus europaeus 'Redcap'):  This cultivar yields a large crop of persistent, bright capsules with orange seeds; the plants medium green leaves turn reddish-purple in the fall.