Spindle (Euonymus europaeus)

Spindle (Euonymus europaeus) is a deciduous shrub or small tree that grows to around 3 to 6 m tall. In autumn their berries often show a beautiful bright red colour.

  • Spindle Tree  -  Euonymus Europaeus  -  Blossom
  • Spindle Tree  -  Euonymus Europaeus  -  Mature Tree In Blossom
  • Spindle Tree  -  Euonymus Europaeus  -  Leaves
  • Spindle Tree  -  Euonymus Europaeus  -  Young Tree In Shelter At Gibraltar Point Nature Reserve
  • Spindle Tree  -  Euonymus Europaeus  -  Berries

Useful info about Spindle trees

Latin NameEuonymus europaeus
TypeDeciduous (loses its leaves in winter)
HeightCan grow up to 5 - 10 metres (18 - 35 feet)
SpreadThe branches can spread out to 1 - 5 metres (3 - 18 feet)
Soil Types PreferredChalk, Clay, Limestone, Loam, Sand
Locations SuitableFarmland, Gardens, Parks
FlowersYellow flowers in spring
FruitPink / red berries in autumn

Similar Species


Spindle trees are in flower from May to June and the seeds ripen from September to November.

The leaves are opposite and are 3 to 8 cm long and 1-3 cm broad. They have a finely serrated edge. In

The hermaphrodite flowers are produced in late spring and are insect-pollinated; they are rather inconspicuous, small, yellowish green and grow in cymes of 3-8 together. The capsular fruit ripens in autumn, and is red to purple or pink in colour and approximately 1 to 1.5 cm wide. When ripe, the four lobes split open to reveal the orange seeds.

The fruit is poisonous, containing amongst other substances, the alkaloids theobromine and caffeine, as well as an extremely bitter terpene. Poisonings are more common in young children, who are enticed by the brightly-coloured fruits. Ingestion can result in liver and kidney damage and even death.


A yellow dye is obtained from the fruit and seed. A pink dye from the fruit case and an orange dye from the seed.

A high quality charcoal is obtained from the wood.


Any uses for trees or tree extracts, whether edible or medicinal, have not been tried or tested by EFORESTS.

Please take caution and seek proper advice before attempting any recipes or medicinal extracts from any of the trees listed on our site.

Culture and Symbolism

The spindle tree is said to represent honour of tribe, community and the sweetness and delight of a sudden revelation.

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