Euonymus oxyphyllus

Taisha is the writer of today’s entry. She scribes:

This photo of Euonymus oxyphyllus, or the Korean spindle tree, was submitted to the Botany Photo of the Day Flickr Pool by Christopher Young (aka c.young@Flickr). Thank you Christopher!

In case anyone was wondering, the Apple Festival held by the Friends of the Garden was a true success this past weekend! The apples were sold out (though the music and festivities continued) before the event had finished Sunday afternoon. More than ten thousand visitors attended the Garden over the course of the weekend!

The Friends of the Garden have their weekly meeting on Wednesday mornings, and this week Daniel gave a short presentation on the colour red in plants. In continuation with this topic is today’s photo of Euonymus oxyphyllus, a member of the Celastraceae.

In Euonymus oxyphyllus, the red pigment in the fruits is due to anthocyanins, particularly chrysanthemin (cyanidin 3-monoglucoside). This deciduous Asian tree produces brightly-coloured capsules that eventually open to reveal bright red arils for dispersal (see: Ishikura, N. 1975. A further study of Anthocyanins and other phenolics in Ilex and Euonymus. Phytochemistry. 14:743-745).

You can read more about this species and view additional photographs / illustrations via the Plants for a Future database: Euonymus oxyphyllus.

Euonymus oxyphyllus

7 responses to “Euonymus oxyphyllus”

  1. Cassandra Amesley

    I’m just enjoying so many of these pictures and write-ups. I read the “anthocyanin” explanation and wondered if that were a hint as to the edibility/inedibility. I’m quite interested in the medical aspects of decorative plants.

  2. Sue P.

    Regarding edibility – The above link to chrysanthemin (goes to wikipedia) says:
    Chrysanthemin is an anthocyanin. It is the 3-glucoside of cyanidin.
    In food, Chrysanthemin has been detected in blackcurrant pomace, in European elderberry, in red raspberries, in victoria plum, in peachlychee and açaí.
    It is the major anthocyanin in purple corn (Zea mays). Purple corn is approved in Japan and listed in the “Existing Food Additive List” as purple corn color.
    There might be an important medicine in there somewhere!

  3. Jonathan

    A similarly striking species native to the US Midwest and some of the Mid Atlantic is Euonymus atropurpureus

  4. Lee Foote

    The flower in todays photo is like an old friend and is very similar to Euonymus americanus, a widely dispersed but relatively uncommon low shrub in the deep south in the USA. Local people call it “hearts-a-bursting” for the brilliant red inflorescence, the slightly more appropriate vernacular is Strawberry Bush.
    Speculation among wildlife biologists is that its rarity is likely due to intense browsing by white-tailed deer for which this is a very desireable species. Sometimes called an “ice cream plant” in recognition that if one finds it at all, it is safe to conclude that deer are absent in that it is the first browse plant to disappear. Sort of like my kids wanting to eat their ice cream before the meatloaf!
    Lee Foote
    Devonian Botanic Garden, Alberta, Canada

  5. Julie

    In North Carolina we call our local species “Hearts-a-Bustin'”because of the way the red seeds pop out of the shell. They look quite similar to this photo, except that the outside of the shell is rougher and pitted. It’s nice to see them in the woods.

  6. Jessica

    That’s a beautiful photo.
    I love the comments on this list.
    The name “heart’s a-burstin'”….how evocative is that!?

  7. Steve Edler

    Here in England, our Spindletree is Euonymus europaeus. All parts are poisonous especially the berries. We have E. fortunei in our garden which is also poisonous but, worse still, harbours black aphids which then infest the Philadelphus.
    The wood is very hard. In the past it was used for making needles, pegs & spindles, hence the name.

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