Euonymous alata

Burning bush, burning bush, burning bush . . . no I am not talking about a bush Moses* has a conversation with, nor am I talking about #43** or any other Bush person***. I’m talking burning bush!!! yah, that’s what I’m talking about Euonymous alata. Possibly the “Mother of all Bushes”.

shrub burning bushForgive me if I sound giddy but I just can’t help it when it comes to a specimen like this: Wow, ain’t she a real beauty? Look at that form, that habit, that foliage . . .

Over-used, over-planted, over-designed . . . over and out. To top it off it has been determined in several parts of the country to be a noxious weed, and an invasive species.

If I were I’d have my minions driving around with chain saws-taking this baby out . . . and speaking of taking out . . . why? why? why do people still cram this thing up against the house? Don’t they see the lovely 12 footers up the street, at their neighbors . . . planted next to the garage.

I found this little tid-bit about burning bush at Dave’s Garden(nice-site Dave!) For me this just about seems perfect when talking about the burning bush:

My husband bought two plants at Costco in late May and was very excited. That very night a moose came up to our back door and ate one half of each plant. We removed them from the yard and placed them on our deck. It has been a month and they have recovered nicely. My husband is transplanting them into the yard today. Hopefully the moose will not be back this summer.

C’mon Moose! Not to be confused with Moses . . . see below.

Euonymous alata near the wildThis plant only looks decent (fall color) for maybe 2 weeks out of the year. It really doesn’t conform to any decently shaped form. any shrub that has to rely on a sheared shape to get by doesn’t fly in my book. Well then, what about leaving it in some type of un-sheared look? As you can see on the left thumbnail, ho-hum. Please notice all the little seedlings sprouting up all around the large shrub-not good. Soon there will be many little burning bushes-everywhere.

a burning bushFinally this would be my choice; really, for dealing with the Euonymus alata, a plant that looks like hell 50 weeks out of the year, no good branching characteristic out of leaf, no real interest in the bark, the leaf-blah, and the seedlings-oh boy! We are getting closer to the Worst of the Worst Shrub.

There is at least one more shrub I am going to make note of, a conifer . . . any guesses. Check back soon for the answer.


Addendum: the 1st photo is courtesy of the Invasive Plants of the Eastern United States site, the Euonymus alata page is where the image was found. If invasive and exotic plants are of interest you should apend some time here, and maybe get involved with the organization.


Addendum #2: The Euonymus alata in the wild comes from this site at the NC Native Plant Society


Addendum #3: Any plant this invasive, that cuases so much trouble, and looks so completely unremarkable almost all year should never be on a “Plant Selection Committe list“, but it happened . . . in 1981 AND 2002! when the ONLA Ohio Nursery and Landscapers Association added 2 cultivars of E. alata to their list. Ohio! . . . I’m so ashamed . . .

Well you know what they say about a committee don’t you?

A committee is a group that spends hours taking minutes, on decisions that could be decide in seconds.

A fact page from tOSU.

Moses and burning bush*Chuck, Edward G., Yul Brynner(sp?), plagues, a cast of thousands and the parting of the Red Sea, you knew this was going to be one of the big all-time block busters.

“So let it be written . . . So let it be done'”




#43 and a umbrella** You would think the United States of America could afford to provide the commander in Chief with a umbrella that was wind proof. It just doesn’t seem right. Plus the French get this picture and start making fun of us.




reggie burning bush*** Even though Reggie is now in the NFL, I have added this pic because this is when Reggie was really burning . . . teams like Fresno State and apparently the NCAA rules committee-some people would like some answers concerning burning the rule book. A burning bush if there ever was one.

By Rick Anderson

The Whispering Crane Institute was originally formed to act as the umbrella organization for the Philosophy of Design Symposium, and other seminars and workshops given by Rick Anderson and Richard L. Dube’. In the year 2000 WCI became a sole proprietorship owned by Rick Anderson. Today the WCI provides design and consultation services for Landscape Contractors, acts as a Green Industry think tank, and provides training for others in the form of workshops, seminars, and individual consulting. The WCI also provides written material, opinions, case-studies and how-to articles for industry trade magazines.


  1. all so true. i remember back in the college years when they told us similar things about the plant, and then you move to a town dominated by engineers (no offense to them) and they plant the thing as often as possible.
    i enjoy all your posts, one day i look forward to hearing about the “Shrubs we DO like”

    Thanks for the compliment, I appreciate it. The question is what are Engineers doing deciding on plant material? I guess the answer is . . . when engineers decide . . . it’s BURNING BUSH!

  2. You stole my thunder. I was so going to vote for this one!

    You still can, we will have open nominations and reasons for . . . coming shortly . . . You may then fire off your thunder and lighting.

  3. For shame!

    First, Euonymus alatus has fall color for a lot more than 2 weeks in my neck of the woods (the Berkshires, near where Massachusetts borders NY and VT), and in sunny sites a much more pleasing color than you show, as well as an interesting color contrast within the bush (bright red on exposed tips, blending to darker red and green towards interior).

    Second, examples getting a fair amount of sun are generally far shapelier than the one in your photo.

    Third, its neatly arrayed opposite leaves provide a great textural contrast to most other shrubs.

    Fourth, it isn’t the bush’s fault that people put it in too small a spot — a problem leading to the defilement of shrubs of many genera.

    Fifth, E. alatus should NEVER be sheared. That does look like crap, as with many other bushes. (Although E. alatus holds up health-wise better than most to shearing.)

    Sixth, the putrid purply-pink tone of the evil ‘Compactus’ form is not representative of the noble, unpurpled shades of red found in most individuals.

    Seventh, yes it is invasive by seed in the wild. But in the garden it is not hard to deal with such seedlings (unlike a creeping groundcover); the cat is out of the bag in terms of the wild; and the fact that birds poop out the seeds all over is indicative of its usefulness at feeding them.

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