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Euonymus latifolius (large-leaved spindle)

The large-leaved spindle is a shrub with scarlet fruits and brilliant red leaves in autumn.

Leaves and flowers of large-leaved spindle

Euonymus latifolius (Photo: Hermann Schachner)

Species information

Scientific name: 

Euonymus latifolius (L.) Mill.

Common name: 

large-leaved spindle

Conservation status: 

Not evaluated according to IUCN Red List criteria.

Habitat: 

On hillsides in scrub, among bracken and on wooded cliffs

Key Uses: 

Ornamental.

Known hazards: 

Seeds probably contain the same, or similar, range of toxic substances as those found in common spindle (E. europaeus), which is poisonous.

Taxonomy

Subclass: 
Superorder: 
Rosanae
Order: 
Celastrales
Family: 
Celastraceae
Genus: Euonymus

About this species

Philip Miller (1691-1771), head gardener at the Chelsea Physic Garden for nearly 50 years, described Euonymus latifolius in the 8th edition of his famous The Gardeners Dictionary (1768). It is particularly valued for the gorgeous red colour of its fruit and leaves in autumn, attributes that led to an Award of Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society in 1916.

Peter Davis, editor of the Flora of Turkey, described a trip to southwestern Anatolia, where he ‘climbed to some shady rocks in the Abies [fir] forest and saw the very lovely sight of Euonymus latifolius in ripe fruit.’ The fruits ‘trembled above one on stalks as long as a cherry’s. It should certainly be planted where one can look up at its laden branches'.

Synonym: 

Euonymus europaeus var. latifolius L., Euonymus sempervirens Rupr. ex Boiss.

Genus: 
Euonymus

Discover more

Geography and distribution

Euonymus latifolius is found from southern France and Spain, to Turkey, the Caucasus, the Crimea, northern Iraq and northwest Iran and in the south in Morocco and Algeria. It has been grown in British gardens since around 1730 and has become naturalised in parts of the country as a result of birds distributing seeds.

Euonymus latifolius (Photo: Hermann Schachner)

Description

Euonymus latifolius is a deciduous shrub up to 6 m, with graceful, arching branches, and oblong leaves 8–16 cm long. The green flowers are usually five-petalled and borne in groups on slender stems from May to June. These are followed in September to October by bright red fruits with four or five winged lobes, measuring 20 mm across and containing orange seeds

Illustration from Curtis's Botanical Magazine

Curtis’s Botanical Magazine (Editor: Martyn Rix) provides an international forum of particular interest to botanists and horticulturists, plant ecologists and those with a special interest in botanical illustration.

Now well over two hundred years old, the Magazine is the longest running botanical periodical featuring colour illustrations of plants. Each four-part volume contains 24 plant portraits reproduced from watercolour originals by leading international botanical artists. Detailed but accessible articles combine horticultural and botanical information, history, conservation and economic uses of the plants described.

Hand-coloured engraving of Euonymus latifolius by John Curtis (1823) taken from Curtis’s Botanical Magazine.

Published for the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew by Wiley-Blackwell Publishing.

Find out more about Curtis’s Botanical Magazine

Threats and conservation

Euonymus latifolius is widespread, but not common in the wild.

Cultivation

Large-leaved spindle is grown as an ornamental.

Millennium Seed Bank: Seed storage

The Millennium Seed Bank partnership aims to save plant life worldwide, focusing on plants under threat and those of most use in the future. Seeds are dried, packaged and stored at a sub-zero temperature in Kew's seed bank vault at Wakehurst.

Description of seeds: Average 1,000 seed weight = 26.5 g
Number of seed collections stored in the Millennium Seed Bank: One
Composition values: Average oil content is 47.9% and average protein content is 20.8%

This species at Kew

Large-leaved spindle can be seen growing at Kew Gardens in the Arboretum and near Brentford Gate. It can also be found at Wakehurst.

Pressed and dried specimens of Euonymus latifolius are held in Kew’s Herbarium, where they are available to researchers from around the world, by appointment. The details of some of these specimens, including images, can be seen online in the Herbarium Catalogue.

View details and images of specimens

References and credits

Bean, W.J. (1973). Trees and Shrubs Hardy in the British Isles. 8th ed. Vol. 2. John Murray, London.

Blakelock, R.A. (1951). A synopsis of the genus Euonymus. Kew Bulletin 6(2): 210-290.

Davis, P.H. (1949). A Journey in South-West Anatolia, part II. J. Roy, Hort. Soc. 74(4): 154-164.

Davis, P.H. (ed.) (1967). Flora of Turkey. Vol. 2. Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh.

Frohne, D. & Pfänder, H.J. (2004). Poisonous Plants: A Handbook for Doctors, Pharmacists, Toxicologists, Biologists and Veterinarians. 2nd Edition. Manson Publishing, London.

Phillips, R. & Rix, M. (1989). Shrubs. Pan Books, London.

Preston, C.D., Pearman, D.A. & Dines, T.D. (2002). New Atlas of the British and Irish Flora: An Atlas of the Vascular Plants of Britain, Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. CD-ROM. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

The Plant List (2010). Euonymus latifolius. Available online (accessed 4 August 2011).

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (2008). Seed Information Database (SID). Version 7.1. Available online (accessed 1 August 2011).

Kew Science Editor: Martyn Rix
Kew contributors: Steve Davis (Sustainable Uses Group)
Copyediting: Malin Rivers

While every effort has been taken to ensure that the information contained in these pages is reliable and complete, the notes on hazards, edibility and suchlike included here are recorded information and do not constitute recommendations. No responsibility will be taken for readers’ own actions.

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