The European Spindle (Euonymus europaeus), also known as the common spindle, a deciduous shrub or small tree native to much of Europe, particularly in the centre, but is to be found in locations from Ireland and southern Scandinavia in the north, to northern Spain and Sicily in the south, and as far east as Lithuania. It is also to be found in Asia Minor and up to the Caucasus.
It grows to 3 - 6 m tall, rarely up to 10 m, with a stem up to 20 cm diameter. The leaves are opposite, and are lanceolate to elliptical, 3 - 8 cm long and 1 - 3 cm broad, with a finely serrated edge. In autumn they often show a beautiful bright red colour.
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.
The European spindle prefers the edges of forest, hedges and gentle slopes, tending to thrive on nutrient-rich, chalky and salt-poor soils.
Other names include Fusoria, Fusanum, Ananbeam.
Cultivation and uses
European Spindle wood is very hard, and can be cut to a very sharp point; it was used in the past for making spindles for spinning wool.
It is a popular ornamental plant in gardens and parks due to its bright pink or purple fruits and attractive autumn colouring, in addition to its resistance to frost and wind.
Ideal as a Standard, Specimen or Hedging