Euonymus fortunei, also commonly known as winter creeper and Fortune's spindle is a species of Euonymus native to China, Korea and Japan.
It is a woody evergreen vine, growing to 20 m tall, climbing by means of small rootlets on the stems, similar to ivy (an example of convergent evolution, as the two species are not related). Like ivy, it also has a sterile non-flowering juvenile climbing or creeping phase, which on reaching high enough into the crowns of trees to get more light, develops into an adult, flowering phase which does not have climbing rootlets.
The leaves are arranged in opposite pairs, elliptic to elliptic-ovate, 2 - 6 cm long and 1 - 3 cm broad, with a finely serrated margin. The flowers are inconspicuous, 5 mm diameter, with four small greenish-yellow petals. The fruit is a four-lobed pale green pod-like berry, whih splits open to reveal the fleshy-coated orange seeds, one seed in each lobe.
It is named after the plant explorer Robert Fortune. The species is closely related to Euonymus japonicus, which differs mainly in being only a shrub, without climbing roots.
Cultivation and uses
It is widely cultivated as an ornamental plant, with numerous cultivars selected for such traits as yellow, variegated and slow, dwarfed growth. It is used as a groundcover or a vine to climb walls and trees.