Euonymus europaeus, the spindle, European spindle, or common spindle, is a species of flowering plant in the family Celastraceae, native to much of Europe, where it inhabits the edges of forest, hedges and gentle slopes, tending to thrive on nutrient-rich, chalky and salt-poor soils. It is a deciduous shrub or small tree.
Euonymus europaeus grows to 3–6 m (10–20 ft) tall, rarely 10 m (33 ft), with a stem up to 20 cm (8 in) in diameter. The leaves are opposite, lanceolate to elliptical, 3–8 cm long and 1–3 cm broad, with a finely serrated edge. Leaves are dark green in summer. Autumn colour ranges from yellow-green to reddish-purple, depending on environmental conditions.
The hermaphrodite flowers are produced in late spring and are insect-pollinated; they are rather inconspicuous, small, yellowish green and grow in cymes of 3–8 together. The capsular fruit ripens in autumn, and is red to purple or pink in colour and approximately 1–1.5 cm wide. When ripe, the four lobes split open to reveal the orange seeds.
Cultivation and uses
It is a popular ornamental plant in gardens and parks due to its bright pink or purple fruits and attractive autumn colouring.
Charcoal produced from this plant is seen as superior among artists due to its strength and density.
Parts of the plant have been used medicinally. However, the fruit is poisonous, containing, amongst other substances, the alkaloids theobromine and caffeine, as well as a large number of much more toxic substances and an extremely bitter terpene. Poisonings are more common in young children, who are enticed by the brightly coloured fruits. Ingestion can result in liver and kidney damage and even death.
- Euonymus multiflorus Opiz ex Bercht. 
- Euonymus floribundus Steven 
- Euonymus europaeus var. macrophyllus Rchb.
- Euonymus europaeus var. intermedius Gaudin
- Euonymus bulgaricus Velen. 
- Euonymus vulgaris Mill. 
- Euonymus angustifolius Clairv.
- Dirr, Michael A. 1998. Manual of Woody Landscape Plants, 5th edi
- "Euonymus europaeus 'Red Cascade' AGM". Royal Horticultural Society. Retrieved 23 June 2020.
- "AGM Plants - Ornamental" (PDF). Royal Horticultural Society. July 2017. p. 37. Retrieved 20 February 2018.
- Clapham, A. R. (1975). The Oxford Book of Trees. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p.31.
- Plants for a Future: Euonymus europaeus
- "Beware the poisonous autumn berries!". Fat Hen The Wild Cookery School. October 2011. Retrieved 15 September 2020.
- "Tela Botánica". Archived from the original on 2012-03-29. Retrieved 2011-09-06.
- "Spindle Wood (Euonymus Europaeus, L.)". British Wild Flowers. Chest of Books. 2009. Retrieved 2009-09-24.
- "Euonymus europaeus L. European spindletree". Natural Resources Conservation Service. US Department of Agriculture. 2009. Retrieved 2009-09-24.
- "Euonymus europaeus European Euonymus Celastraceae". University of Connecticut Plant Database. University of Connecticut. Archived from the original on 2009-03-30. Retrieved 2009-09-24.