A popular landscape plant, winged burning bush (Euonymus alatus) is October's Weed of the Month. Winged burning bush was added to the State Noxious Weed List in 2020 as a Specially Regulated Plant. The special regulation requires nurseries and growers to phase the plant out of production over the next three years, and on January 1, 2023, the species will move to the Restricted Noxious Weed category, meaning it will be prohibited from sale, propagation, and transport in the state of Minnesota.
Winged burning bush was introduced to North America in the mid-1800s for use as an ornamental shrub. The bright red fall foliage made it an attractive landscape plant and it was commonly planted in foundation plantings.
This woody perennial shrub reaches heights of 5-10 feet. Young branches develop reddish, corky "wings" giving it a distinctive appearance. Fruits mature into red capsules that split open to expose bright orange to red berries.
Winged burning bush is adaptable to many growing conditions, including full sun and shade. It is also a prolific seed producer and seeds are primarily disbursed by birds and humans. These characteristics help it become competitive in the landscape where it produces many seedlings that outcompete native vegetation, reducing plant diversity in the understory.
In Minnesota, winged burning bush has been found naturalizing from the Twin Cities metro area down through the southeast corner of the state.