Common name:
Euonymus europaeus
Celastraceae- The Spindle Family
Flowering period:
roadsides, hedgerows, woodlands, rocky ground and lake margins
Conservation Status:
Common throughout the Burren

The brightly coloured pink and orange fruits of  spindle trees are still visible in the Burren hedgerows long after its fiery red leaves have disappeared

Short description: 

A small tree with green twigs and  narrow green leaves which turn to  rust and eventually bright red during  late Autumn.

Flowers are small and greenish -white in colour, opening in early May. These flowers produce distinctive pink three or four chambered fruits which split towards the Autumn to reveal their orange seeds.

Noteworthy characteristics:

Bright green twigs which produce narrow toothed green leaves that turn to red towards the late Autumn.  Stand out  fruits that are pink in colour which split to produce bright orange interiors. This bright orange fleshy structure is much loved by feeding birds and contains lots of nutritious fats and protein. Within this fleshy structure are the plants seeds which are rejected by birds and mice due to their poisonous nature

Uses and other points of interest:

Spindle wood is white in colour, hard and tough lending itself to many uses in past Ireland from toothpicks  and knitting needles to spindles

Spindle is regarded as a poisonous plant and no parts of the plant should ever be eaten.

The bark of the Spindle tree was used for the treatment of headlice in children. It was also used in Irish folk medicine as a liver tonic.

The brightly coloured fruits were used in dyeing in Ireland in the past. Red, yellow and green colours were produced by using different parts of the fruit.

Fiddle bows were made from spindle wood in Ireland in the past.

Personal note:

This is a gorgeous little tree and one that I always associate with the Burren.  Its delicate flowers are often overlooked but are worth seeking out in early summer.

Striking flashes of pink and orange  fruits bring  much needed colour to the Burren hedgerows in late Autumn and during the early winter months


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