October Invasive: Burning Bush

Oct 5, 2015 by

Burning Bush

The wings on the branches make it easy to identify


As the weather turns cooler and the days get shorter we will again be treated to the spectacular colors of fall foliage. Unfortunately some of the most colorful leaves are from an invasive shrub called Winged Euonymous (Euonymous alatus) or Burning Bush. The green leaves of this shrub turn bright scarlet to purplish red in the fall hence the name.




In places where this plant has taken over you will clearly see in the fall vast areas of the red foliage which looks pretty but spells trouble for native plants and wildlife. The plants spread profusely from seed either dropping to the ground or spread by birds. The roots form a dense mat just below the soil surface this and the dense shade provided by the leaves prevents other plants from growing. The result is that native plants and the creatures that depend on them for food disappear. There is also evidence that Burning Bush gradually changes the soil chemistry eventually causing even trees to die off.

Although Burning Bush is still sold in stores and nurseries there are many native plants such as Winterberry and Highbush Cranberry that produce colorful berries and provide winter food for wildlife. For bright fall foliage consider Silky Dogwood, Red Twig Dogwood or Highbush Blueberry.

To control Burning Bush pull small plants and cut the stems of larger plants and paint with Roundup. Check the area again in the spring to be sure that the cut stump has not re-sprouted.

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