|A EUROPEAN SPINDLE TREE IN BAYFIELD'S FOUNTAIN GARDEN PARK|
|RED BERRIES EMERGING FROM THEIR PINK COVERINGS|
Every fall a small, otherwise nondescript tree, about the size of a flowering crab apple tree, becomes a pinkish-red focal point in Bayfield's Fountain Garden Park. Adorned with unusual berries about the size of a pea, which emerge from a pink covering, it is a beautiful sight, providing a splash of color even after most of the park's colored leaves have fallen.
The European spindle tree, Euonymus europeaus,in the family Celastraceae, has long been planted as an ornamental in North America and sometimes escapes from cultivation and is reported to be invasive in some regions, but I personally have not encountered it in the wild. In Europe and western Asia it is a woods-edge tree, usually growing on poor, rocky or calcareous soils. The common name refers to its extremely hard wood, that was used in the past to make the spindles on spinning wheels. It is an uncommonly pretty sight when in fruit, but it should be noted that the berries are poisonous, although they are so bitter as to be unlikely to be eaten. In European herbal medicine an extract of the root is used as a liver stimulant.
The common burning bush, Euonymus alata, with its prominent, blood-red fall leaf color, is an Asian relative of the spindle tree. The winged wahoo, Eunonymus americanus, which is native to eastern North America, is also in the same genus.
European spindle tree is one of those single-emphasis plants that one may wish to have as a focal point or oddity, but it has little else to offer than its fall splash of color.