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Euonymus europaeus.jpg
Euonymus europaeus foliage and fruit
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Celastrales
Family: Celastraceae
Subfamily: Celastroideae
Genus: Euonymus

See text


Kalonymus (Beck) Prokh.
Pragmotessara Pierre
Pragmotropa Pierre
Quadripterygium Tardieu
Sphaerodiscus Nakai[1]

Euonymus /juːˈɒnɪməs/, often called spindle or spindle tree,[2] is a genus of flowering plants in the staff vine family, Celastraceae. It comprises about 130 species[3][4] of deciduous and evergreen shrubs and small trees. They are mostly native to East Asia, extending to the Himalayas,[5] and they are also distributed in Europe, Australasia, North America, and Madagascar. 50 species are endemic to China.[3]


The flowers occur in small groups, inconspicuous and of green or yellow shades.[5] The leaves are opposite (rarely alternate) and simple ovoid, typically 2–15 cm long, and usually with a finely serrated margin. The fruit is a pink-red four- or five-valved pod-like berry, which splits open to reveal the fleshy-coated orange seeds.

The seeds are eaten by frugivorous birds, which digest the fleshy seed coat and disperse the seeds in their droppings. Many species are used for medicinal use, and parts of the plants can be poisonous to humans.[6]

Cultivation and uses[edit]

Mature spindle fruit (Euonymus sp.), split open to reveal the seeds

The wood of some species was traditionally used for the making of spindles for spinning wool; this use is the origin of the English name of the shrubs.

Spindles are popular garden shrubs, grown for their foliage, the deciduous species often exhibiting very bright red autumnal colours, and also for the decorative berries.


Euonymus fortunei in a nursery

Species include:[7]


  1. ^ "Genus: Euonymus L.". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. 2007-10-05. Retrieved 2010-10-02. 
  2. ^ Sunset Western Garden Book, 1995:606–607
  3. ^ a b Euonymus. Flora of China.
  4. ^ a b c d Du, C., et al. (2013). Revision of three species of Euonymus (Celastraceae) from China. Phytotaxa 109(1) 45-53.
  5. ^ a b Botanica: The Illustrated A-Z of over 10000 Garden Plants and How to Cultivate Them. Könemann, 2004. pg. 358. ISBN 3-8331-1253-0
  6. ^ Plants for a Future: Euonymus europaeus
  7. ^ Euonymus Species List. Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved 2013-07-04.
  8. ^ a b "Euonymus". The Plant List. Retrieved 16 May 2014. 
  9. ^ English Names for Korean Native Plants (PDF). Pocheon: Korea National Arboretum. 2015. p. 463. ISBN 978-89-97450-98-5. Retrieved 24 December 2016 – via Korea Forest Service. 
  10. ^ a b c d Ma, J. (1998). New species of Asian Euonymus (Celastraceae). Harvard Papers in Botany 3(2) 231-37.