Spindle Euonymus europaeus

Scientific Name: Euonymus europaeus (Celastraceae).

English Name: Spindle (Spindle family).

French Name: Le Fusain d'Europe.

5 Key Characters:
  • oval finely toothed leaves with pointed tip.
  • bright watermelon pink fruit which open to reveal orange seeds.
  • deciduous shrub or small tree, leaves go orange in autumn.
  • flowers 4 petalled, greenish white.
  • found on calcareous soils.

Lookalikes: None if you see it fruiting.

Habitat: Woodland, scrub, hedgerows on calcareous soil.

Flowering Period: May-June.

Fruiting Period: September-October.

Status: Very common. The wood is traditionally used to make charcoal for sketching. The larval host food plant for Spindle Ermine Yponomeuta cagnagella moths. Caterpillars live communally in protective webs and are very obvious on the plant.

Photographed by Loire Valley Nature:


  1. The ridges up the stems, often red at the edges, are a good identifier, too.

    As you say, difficult to miss when bearing the clusters of berries...
    this year [2014] has been a particularly good year...
    the almost flourescent pink bushes standing out against the green that surrounds them.

    Also, around here, suffers terribly from the attentions of a communally 'nesting' caterpillar...
    again quite obvious to spot a Spindle that is under assault!!

  2. Tim: Thanks for reminding me about the caterpillar. My spindle in the orchard gets these most years. They are Spindle Ermine Yponomeuta cagnagella moth larvae. Must dig out a photo and add.

  3. I've never knowingly seen the moth...
    unless from beneath on the windows at night!!

  4. The charcoal is so much used for sketching that a charcoal sketch is also called "un fusain".

  5. Tim: They look just like regular Ermine moths, so you probably didn't realise it if you did see one.

    PG: indeed. I should have mentioned that too.