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Euonymus myrianthus

Evergreen Spindle Tree

Origin:  Western China.
            Mike's Opinion

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Euonymus myrianthus is a shrub or small tree that is native to western China and was introduced to England in 1908 by Ernest Wilson, a known plant hunter of the time. It is safe to say that this plant has held its own for generations because of the vibrant, glossy dark green foliage and noteworthy fruit.

Michael Pascoe, NDP., ODH., CLT., MSc. (Plant Conservation)


Shrub (evergreen)
USDA Hardiness Zone
7 - 10
Canadian Hardiness Zone
6b - 8a
RHS Hardiness Zone
H6 - H3
Temperature (°C)
-18 - 2
Temperature (°F)
0 - 35
3 m
2 - 3 m
Description and Growing Information
Flowering Period
General Description
Euonymus myrianthus is a broadleaf evergreen shrub that grows to be quite large in its mature state, reaching a height of up to 3 m. Euonymus myrianthus has vibrant green to dark green foliage that hails from spring right into the autumn months. From later spring into summer, small flowers begin to bloom and are yellow-green with colour. After the flowers have bloomed, the fruit grows, which are circular, orange-yellow and then darken before they divide and open. This exposes the orange-red seeds (arils) within.
Euonymus myrianthus is a shrub or small tree that is not often used in landscape since it is mainly recognized for the brilliant fruit/seeds that it bears. It can, however, be used as hedges or screens either grown in its natural form or pruned to a desired shape. It can also be planted in mass groupings or used as an elegant accent piece all on its own, showcasing form, foliage and its fruit/seeds. Euonymus myrianthus can also be used as an anchoring plant, used to highlight the transitions between hardscapes, softscapes and various areas.
Euonymus myrianthus can grow comfortably in full sun to dappled shade. Clay, loam or sand are all acceptable soil types. It is also able to grow in slight acidic or alkaline soils. It can grow in moist or dry conditions but prefers well-drained soil. Euonymus myrianthus is pollution and drought tolerant and will also withstand some degree of soil compaction. It is not recommended to be used as an urban tree as the branches are quite delicate. Euonymus myrianthus can also be trained in younger years to form a small-scale single or multi-trunked evergreen tree. Providing some shelter and extra precaution for Euonymus myrianthus in the colder weather is recommended since cold winds can strip this plant of moisture.
Euonymus myrianthus is globose and stands upright. It generally grows completely to the ground creating a thicker, dense appearance. It can be pruned any time, although typically the best time is later in autumn. It is not overly finicky so trimming to a preferred shape is acceptable when using it for hedges and screens.
ID Characteristic
Euonymus myrianthus has opposite, simple, ovoid-shaped leaves that can range from 2-15cm in length, with defined serrated margins. The surface of its leaf is glossy and smooth with pronounced veins. During the summer and spanning into autumn, the leaves continue to showcase their vibrant green until they are ready to drop. At this point they change into a pale yellow to orange-red colour. After the clusters of yellowish flowers have appeared, globose orange-yellow fruit follow adding much interest to this shrub. The bright orange fruit gives great contrast and depth to the green foliage and then to the autumn colour moving into fall and winter. Young bark is green, which turns into various shades of grey as it ages.
The most problematic pest that affect both evergreen and deciduous Euonymus species is the euonymus scale. These armoured scales puncture foliage, causing stunted growth, yellow spots on foliage, branch dieback and death if left untreated. This plant is also vulnerable to leafspot and powdery mildew.
Euonymus myrianthus can be found in various diversified forests of Western China and in woodlands with a depth of 1200 meters or less.
Bark/Stem Description
Young branches and stems are green and vibrant, turning into a dark grey to dark grey-brown bark as it ages.
Leaf Description
Euonymus myrianthus has opposite leaves which are simple ovoid shaped and can range from 2-15 cm in length. The edges have defined serrated margins. The surface of the leaves is glabrous with pronounced veins. From summer spanning into autumn, leaves continue to showcase their vibrant green until just before they are ready to fall, changing into a pale yellow to orange-red colour.
Flower Description
Euonymus myrianthus flowers in April to July, and produces an inflorescence of tiny yellow-green flowers. These clusters of flowers are approximately 7-8 cm wide.
Fruit Description
Aestival (appearing in summer) globose, capsule like, green fruit which turn an orange-yellow colour. With time the fruit darken their colour and open up revealing the orange-red seed (arils) inside.
Colour Description
Euonymus myrianthus has green foliage from summer into autumn until the leaves are ready to drop, changing into a pale yellow to orange-red colour. The flowers are yellow-green and the fruit is green to orange-yellow. Over time the fruit darkens to bright orange with orange-red seeds (arils) inside. Young branches and stems are green, maturing to a grey-brown colour.
Texture Description
Notable Specimens
Westonbirt, The National Arboretum, Tetbury, Gloucestershire, England. Euonymus myrianthus can also be found at the Royal Horticultural Society Herbarium at Wiseley, United Kingdom, the Peckerwood Garden in Hempstead, Texas and the University of Washington Arboretum in Seattle.
Self sowing, semi-ripe cuttings, cold frame (See references for proper method and instruction).
Ethnobotanical Uses (Disclaimer)
The Genus 'Euonymus' is generally referred to as spindle or spindle tree, hence the connection between using the timber of several different species of this plant to make spindles in order to spin wool, followed by toothpicks and even bird cages. Some species were also utilized for such purposes as charcoal, gun powder, coloured dyes made from the fruit, insecticides and oil commonly used to produce soap.
Hogan, S. (2008). Trees for all seasons: Broadleaved evergreens for temperate climates. Portland, OR: Timber Press. Euonymus myrianthus, pg. 128-129 Snyder, L. C. (2000). Gardening in Upper Midwest. Minneapolis, MN, USA: University of Minnesota Press. Retrieved March 21, 2016, from Chapter 3: How Plants Are Propagated, Pg. 28-39