AppearanceThis deciduous shrub grows to 6.1 m tall, often wider than tall. As with the related ''Euonymus phellomanus'', the stems are notable for their four corky ridges or "wings." The word ''alatus'' is Latin for "winged," in reference to the winged branches.
These structures develop from a cork cambium deposited in longitudinal grooves in the twigs' first year, unlike similar wings in other plants. The leaves are 2–7 cm long and 1–4 cm broad, ovate-elliptic, with an acute apex. The flowers are greenish, borne over a long period in the spring. The fruit is a red aril enclosed by a four-lobed pink, yellow, or orange capsule.
Distribution''Euonymus alatus'' native distribution extends from northeastern Asia to central China. Besides central and eastern China, Euonymus alatus also appears in Korea, Japan, and the Sakhalin islands of eastern Russia.
The ''Euonymus alatus'' plant is nonnative to North America. In the United States, burning bush is found in New England, as well as Illinois, and extends south to northern Florida and the Gulf Coast. It is currently considered an invasive species in 21 states.
StatusThis plant is regarded as an invasive species of woodlands in eastern North America, and its importation and sale is prohibited in the states of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine.
HabitatIn its native areas, Euonymus alatus occurs in forests, woodlands, and scrublands from sea level to 8,900 feet elevation.
UsesAll parts of the plant are toxic by ingestion, causing severe discomfort.
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