Watch Out for the Burning Bush in Fall

Come fall and your garden and yard bursts with color and fragrance for everybody’s joy. But do you really know what grows on your property? How many times did you look at a plant, flower or vine wondering where it came from and how to treat it – as weed or native plant to keep around? Some invasive native plants in your state do look great from a decorative point of view, but most of them are quite dangerous. Our lawn care Wilton, CT prost want to offer you today a short guide on an inconspicuous plant that is actually an invasive cold season weed: the Burning Bush (Euonymus alatus).

This deciduous shrub looks amazing in fall due to its bright red foliage; this is why you may see it appearing on the sides of the roads or in parks. It also shows up growing wildly in controlled landscapes as well. It can be kept as a decorative shrub, but it also should be contained.


It originates from Northeastern Asia, Japan and Central China.

How Can You Recognize It?

  • Large shrub, 6 to 9 ft. tall, sometimes being able to reach a 15 ft. height
  • Comes with corky winged green / brown twigs
  • Opposite, oval to tear-drop shaped leaves, bright red in fall
  • Showy red purple fruits that split open when ripe revealing bright red fleshy seeds. The fruiting season begins in August and ends in January; this is why it is important to keep an eye on it from late summer to mid winter.

Why is it An Ecological Threat?

It spreads with the help of wildlife which eats the fruits, thus spreading the seeds. Wildlife can spread the seeds throughout the entire cold season, allowing the plant’s development cycle to begin again in spring. The Burning Bush is a resilient shrub, tolerating almost all soil types and weather conditions. The problem is that it gathers in dense thickets which can displace many native woody and herbaceous plant species.

How to Control the Burning Bush Development?

Limitation of spreading and control can be achieved mechanically, by pulling out (including the roots) the young plant if caught early, or by digging up the full mature plant in fall. If you encounter this shrub around your property, have your lawn care Wilton, CT experts remove it.

If you want to chemically control the spreading of the shrub, glyphosate or triclopyr foliage spray on small plants should do the trick. If you caught the plant in full growth during mid fall, you can spray the freshly cut stubs with the same substances. Your lawn care Wilton, CT specialists can give you the best advice on how to deal with a Burning Bush infestation.

Native Alternatives to the Burning Bush

You can keep the Burning Bush around for its aesthetics, but you can use native alternatives such as Arrowwood, Bayberry, Chokeberry, Highbush Blueberry, Smooth Sumac, or Witchhazel. Ask your local lawn care and landscaping Wilton, CT specialists for the best alternatives depending on your property’s soil and sun/shade areas.