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Although this could very well be a picture of me finding a new treasure at a favorite nursery, it's actually an illustration by David Catrow for a children's book called Plantzilla.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Euonymus latifolius, my favorite plant in the garden (this week)

You may recall my post from October '12 about the Euonymus europaeus 'Red Ace' in my parking strip.  My favorite plant in the garden this week is another Euonymus a.k.a. spindle tree, Euonymus latifolius.


Here's what Dan Hinkley wrote of this plant in his 1999 Heronswood catalog:  "If not the best of the spindle trees that we grow, then certainly the earliest, as this will be in full ripened fruit by Labor Day of every year, enticing a new legion of devotees during our autumn open house to this superlative deciduous, highly fruitful portion of the genus.  Dark green foliage on upright stems provide a delightful foil to the huge crops of large, bright red fruit ultimately opening to expose orange seeds.  Excellent autumn folial tones later in the season.  Full sun or light shade - having two to three plants for cross pollination is advisable. (They can be planted in the same hole if you are wanting for space.")


The first time I saw this in fruit at Heronswood,  I joined the legion of devotees of which Hinkley wrote.  I sought out and found two four inch pots of this at Heronswood and planted them together in the same hole.  They remained tiny twigs for quite some time but then began to put on some growth and finally began to produce fruit about five or six years ago. 

From http://www.plantdatabase.co.uk comes this information about the plant: 

"A bushy fully hardy perennial deciduous tree with cream flowers in early summer and late spring.  It grows well in direct sun and semi-shade, and prefers medium levels of water.  It has average drought tolerance.  Looks best in autumn."


The plant is hardy to -9 F and takes 16 - 20 years to mature.  I've had these for 14 years so they're still youngish.

With an ultimate height and spread of 15 feet, they can be pruned to be bushier but I've decided, because I'm lazy and not a very adept pruner, to let them grow without trimming.  They are now large enough to walk under and enjoy gazing up at the fruit.  I also like the way the more open form allows more light below so that things of interest during other seasons can grow beneath.
The blooming of Albizia julibrissin, which continues to be glorious, and extremely messy this year, signals the apex of summer in my garden, signaling that the inexorable slide toward fall is close at hand.  The Labor Day glory of  this Spindle Tree overlapping with the Albizia julibrissin, is telling me that it's time to say good bye to the folly of summer and get back to work and responsibility.  Le Sigh.   Anyway, this is a great plant for late summer and autumn color!

My favorite plant in the garden (this week) is a meme sponsored by my pal Loree at Danger Garden.  Click on the link to see the favorite plants of other gardeners as well.

36 comments:

  1. Is this the same as 'Hearts a Busting'? It grows in the wild here. Yours may be somewhat different.

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    1. Hearts a Bustin' is Euonymus americanus which is similar but HaB has narrower lanceolate leaves, prefers shade to deep shade, and only reaches 4 - 6 feet. The fruits look similar.

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  2. What a great plant! I love those berries. I have the native Hearts-a-Burstin Euonymus americanus that Philip mentions, but it is still just a baby and hasn't been in the ground long. I don't think it gets big enough to walk under though.

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    1. I also have Euonymus europaeus 'Red Ace' that can reach 15 feet but it came as a trimmed and a little denser shrub, I've kept it that way. The fruits are equally lovely to look down on! Yours will bloom before long. It's worth the wait because it's quite a show! I saw another Red Ace at Vassey a couple of years ago but don't often see these at nurseries.

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  3. I can see why it's your favorite !

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    1. It will be for a while but you know how fickle gardeners are, the rest of the year when it's a collection of naked sticks or mass of green leaves, something else will be my favorite.

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  4. Peter, one day strolling through the shady woods, I met shrubs with dense and smooth dark green leaves that resemble the shape of bay leaf. Here are some euonymus, many species of which are also called pseudo laurels. Yours is very pretty, I love the berries!

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    1. Oh yes, Nadezda, there are many varieties of euonymus that are native to various parts of the world. How wonderful that you found some strolling through the shady woods!

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  5. Dan's description is certainly more lust educing than the one from plant database UK! He was certainly adept at adding the romance.

    Thanks for sharing your favorite! I hope your work week goes smoothly...just think of the excitement that awaits us on Saturday!

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    1. I keep the old Heronswood catalogs around just for Dan's plant descriptions. No pictures or illustrations at all just 295 pages with ten or so passionate plant descriptions per page. Do you like to read while riding in a car? I could bring a catalog for some light reading during the trip to Heronswood.

      I just had the best first day of school ever! No surprises, everything ran smoothly, the new kids are adorable, miss the ones that have moved on but see most of them as they arrive on the buses so there were big hugs all around!

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    2. Thank you for the offer but reading in the car makes me slightly nauseous. Best to avoid.

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  6. You may have solved my dilemma about why my spindle tree does not produce these wonderful fruits (its only reason for being in my garden). First, mine is E.sachalinensis, not E. latifolius, and I have only the one. Thanks for throwing light on one of the many mysteries that plague me.

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    1. Seems like the more you have, the heavier they fruit. The two originals produced fruit nicely for a couple of years but after I put another set (different variety) out in the parking strip, the yield has at least doubled!

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  7. Sooo beautiful! I had no idea! wow!

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    1. It's one of those sort of nondescript plants that people don't notice much through the rest of the year but when it produces fruit, it can't be ignored. Put some fuchsias at it's feet and you'll have a fluorescent color show that would rival a black light poster!

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    1. I look forward to it's show every year as it brings back memories of the time of plant treasure hunts before the days of tissue culture, when we'd happily come home from specialty nurseries with a few tiny sticks in four inch pots and watch them grow steadily over the years. Now it seems that everything is available in one thousand gallon sized pots fully grown and ready to plop right into our gardens. (Not complaining, mind you, just nostalgia.)

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  9. Since I do have a weak spot for pretty, dangly plants I might have to keep an eye out for this one. Very nice!

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    1. It has only late summer fruit and autumn foliage color interest is a bunch of naked gray sticks all winter and o.k. green leaves in the spring and summer. If that doesn't bother you, by all means, get one (or two, male and female) and enjoy the late season fireworks!

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  10. Beautiful fruits!! I like the last picture as I can imagine how it is to walk under it. I recently found a Spindle Tree (Euonymus europaeus) in the landscape of the little village where I garden. I didn't know there were some there so I was happy to find it and it makes this favorite of yours this week special for me.

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    1. What a nice story about you finding a Spindle Tree in your village. Very special that we can both grow this and we live thousands of miles apart!

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  12. Hey there you Outlaw ;-)
    This is a very pretty shrub come small tree .. something I like to do to so called shrubs .. I have done it to Sumac, and a few smoke bush and love the affect... the fruit on this one is so pretty, makes it very striking indeed! ... and it is within my zone ... hum ? LOL
    Yes .. Autumn is coming and I couldn't be happier .. things are less intense in the garden, not as needy but a few newbies will be .. my Coles Prostrate hemlock , new special rhodos, and Japanese maple will be babied into winter.
    But .. time for switching things up now and a bit of containment? eeekkk!
    Great pictures .. you have a very attractive "tree" there !
    Joy : )
    PS .. I forgot to say .. I garden on both sides of the ally way .. I asked my neighbor if I could .. so far so good ? LOL

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    1. It is nice to relax into the inexorable slide into fall but still the sadness at the diminishing light. The colorful leaves of autumn, pumpkins at the stands and dried corn husks in the fields will warm the days of October and November in a special way and I love the season. If only it weren't followed by winter, it would be great! Thanks for the compliment about my pictures.

      It's nice that you get to garden on both sides as it really looks great!

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  13. hi og, this is a new plant for me. Very attractive. I also had a 'aha' moment when you said you didn't prune because you weren't good at it and were lazy. I keep ruining trees and shrubs, and I suddenly thought: why not be like og (i.e. sensible) and just leave them to grow? I love the pink petals and lush orange seeds, very unusual. I wouldn't try to grow it, though, if it wasn't drought tolerant, so I'll just admire yours.

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    1. I think that these are drought tolerant once established. One of these days, I'll hire an arborist or at least a good pruner to come over and work on some of my trees and maybe give me a lesson because, like you, I've ruined some nice trees.

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  14. That is so beautiful. I can see why it hit the top of the favorites list for this week. Love it!

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    1. Glad you like it Deanne! Happy Gardening!

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  15. So beautiful...it must be amazing to look up at all those dangling blooms/fruits!

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    1. Oh Scott, you know how we love the dangling things. These are wonderful this time of the year!

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  16. "...the inexorable slide toward fall is close at hand".
    This is poetry and it beautifully describes how I feel this time of year.

    Anything that brightens up our garden during the dog days of summer becomes a favorite. Mine (this week) is the autumn crocus: such glorious pink pushed out of parched soil!

    Good luck with the new school year.

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    1. I wish I could take credit for that line but Val Easton came up with the inexorable slide toward fall. It captures a feeling so well that I use it. You've given me a great idea for next weeks favorite plant in the garden post! Don't have any true autumn crocus but have a lot of colchicum that do the same thing in the late summer and early fall.

      Thanks, the school year is off to a great start!

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  17. I love pink and orange together, so I'm pretty blown away by this one. And don't go being responsible just yet . . .

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    1. You're right, I've never been that responsible, why start now?

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  18. Hi, there. I, too, saw this at Heronswood when it had all the red hangy things and HAD to have it. That was 10 years ago and mine is now huge. However, all the hangy things drop off every year and never get red. Do I need another one for pollination and does it have to be the same variety? I have a really small space, so it would nice if I could get something smaller. Any idea? Thank you so much.

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  19. There has to be a male and female plant for the bush/tree to produce fruit. Don't know if it has to be the same variety. When I got mine, it was suggested to put both M and F in the same planting hole to save space. I have noticed an increase in fruit/berry/seed (whatever those things are) production since I planted a different and smaller variety in my parking strip a few years ago. You could get the same variety of the opposite sex and keep it trimmed into a smaller shrub as they don't mind being pruned.

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Thanks so much for taking the time to comment! I love to hear your thoughts.