Euonymus - Spindle Trees
Euonymus is a wide-ranging genus of about 170 deciduous and evergreen trees and shrubs. The majority of the shrubs in the genus are native to East Asia, but the Euonymus europaeus grows naturally in many areas of Europe on the edges of forests. The genus is best known for its ornamental fruits which appear in autumn and usually hold on the tree after the leaves fall. The inedible fruits are showy and colourful and they also hold brightly coloured seeds inside. With the native Euonymus europaeus, the fruits are four-winged and join together as a capsule; they then split to reveal large and sticky orange seeds.The common name of 'spindle tree' comes from the fact that the wood was originally used to make spindles for spinning wool, and it was perfect for this job because it has a close and solid texture. Today, the genus is widely cultivated for its ornamental value, and many gardeners plant it for its year-round interest. In spring, the genus generally offers small flowers with fresh spring foliage, over summer the lanceolate leaves are appealing, in autumn, the fruits appear and the leaves turn to vivid shades before falling and in winter the fruits open to reveal the large seeds.