Winged Spindle Tree Euonymus cornutus var. quinquecornutus

☠ Toxic to humans
🐾 Toxic to pets
🌸 Not blooming
🍪 Not edible
‍🌱 Easy-care
five-horned spindle


Commonly known as the Spindle Tree, this plant is recognizable by its distinctive foliage and fruit. The leaves are generally oval-shaped with finely serrated edges. They are a deep green color that can turn to reddish-purple or bright red during the fall, providing a visually attractive seasonal display. Flowering in late spring to early summer, the Spindle Tree produces small inconspicuous flowers that are often a greenish-white color. These flowers may not be the most striking feature but they lay the foundation for the most characteristic aspect of the plant. Following the flowering period, the Spindle Tree bears a unique fruit that is noteworthy for its unusual appearance. The capsules are typically pink or a reddish-purple hue and, upon maturity, they split open to reveal seeds. Each seed is encased in a fleshy, bright orange aril that stands out against the color of the capsule. The branching pattern of the Spindle Tree adds to its ornamental value, with stems that can be slightly winged and sometimes exhibit an interesting corky texture. The overall shape of the tree can be quite variable, sometimes upright and other times more spread out, depending on the specific branch structure of the individual plant. With its vibrant autumn leaf color, distinctive fruiting capsules, and interesting branching, the Spindle Tree is a versatile addition to landscapes that can offer visual interest across multiple seasons, despite the absence of large, showy flowers. This adaptability makes it a favored choice for gardens and park settings where year-round appeal is desired.

Plant Info
Common Problems

About this plant

  • memoNames

    • Family


    • Synonyms

      Spindle Tree, Five-horned Spindle

    • Common names

      Euonymus cornutus var. quinquecornutus.

  • skullToxicity

    • To humans

      The plant commonly referred to as spindle tree, specifically Euonymus cornutus var. quinquecornutus, is considered toxic to humans. If ingested, parts of the plant may cause symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, chills, and in severe cases, changes in heart rate and rhythm. The severity of poisoning usually depends on the amount consumed, and medical attention should be sought if ingestion occurs.

    • To pets

      Similar to its effects on humans, the spindle tree, or Euonymus cornutus var. quinquecornutus, is toxic to pets. If pets ingest parts of this plant, they may experience symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and in some cases, weakness or cardiac effects. It's important for pet owners to prevent pets from eating any part of this plant and to consult a veterinarian immediately if ingestion is suspected.

  • infoCharacteristics

    • Life cycle


    • Foliage type


    • Color of leaves


    • Flower color


    • Height

      6 feet (1.83 meters)

    • Spread

      6 feet (1.83 meters)

    • Plant type


    • Hardiness zones


    • Native area



  • money-bagGeneral Benefits

    • Ornamental Value: The spindle tree's unique appearance and colorful fruits make it a popular choice for ornamental planting in gardens and landscapes.
    • Habitat for Wildlife: Its fruits provide a food source for birds and other wildlife, helping to maintain local biodiversity.
    • Drought Tolerance: Once established, it is relatively drought-tolerant, making it suitable for xeriscaping and low-water-use gardens.
    • Soil Adaptability: It can thrive in a variety of soil types, including those that are poor or compacted, increasing its usefulness in different landscapes.
    • Seasonal Interest: Offers visual interest across multiple seasons with its flowers, fruits, and fall foliage coloring.
    • Shade Tolerance: Can grow in partial shade, giving it flexibility for planting in various garden situations.
    • Erosion Control: Its root system can help stabilize soil and control erosion on slopes or in areas prone to soil loss.
    • Privacy Screen: When planted in groups or rows, it can serve as an effective natural privacy screen or hedge.

  • medicalMedical Properties

    This plant is not used for medical purposes.

  • windAir-purifying Qualities

    This plant is not specifically known for air purifying qualities.

  • leavesOther Uses

    • Euonymus cornutus var. quinquecornutus, commonly known as spindle tree, can provide a unique natural dye from its fruits and bark, used historically for coloring wool and textiles.
    • The hard, dense wood of the spindle tree is suitable for creating intricate carvings or small wooden objects like toothpicks, knitting needles, and other fine tools.
    • Its light and easily workable wood makes it an ideal choice for crafting musical instruments such as flutes or other woodwind instruments.
    • The spindle tree has been used in ornamental horticulture to create living fences and hedges due to its dense foliage and manageable growth habit.
    • Euonymus cornutus var. quinquecornutus can be trained into bonsai, allowing enthusiasts to appreciate its interesting fruit pods and autumn colors in miniature form.
    • The decorative fruits of the spindle tree are sometimes used in dry floral arrangements and wreath-making for their colorful and unique appearance.
    • The leaves of the spindle tree can provide a habitat and food source for certain caterpillar species, thus playing a role in supporting local biodiversity.
    • Its attractive fall foliage can be used to create natural garlands or decorations for seasonal displays, bringing a touch of autumn beauty indoors.
    • The wood of Euonymus cornutus var. quinquecornutus can be used for making high-quality charcoal used by artists for sketching and drawing.
    • Spindle tree branches can be utilized in landscape architecture to create whimsical structures or shapes through the technique of pleaching, which involves weaving branches together.

Interesting Facts

  • bedFeng Shui

    The plant Spindle is not used in Feng Shui practice.

  • aquariusZodiac Sign Compitability

    The plant Spindle is not used in astrology practice.

  • spiralPlant Symbolism

    • Durability: Euonymus cornutus var. quinquecornutus, commonly known as Spindle Tree, is recognized for its tough wood, often symbolizing strength and endurance over time.
    • Versatility: With its wide variety of uses in crafting and landscaping, the Spindle Tree represents adaptability and usefulness.
    • Protection: Historically, some believed that the wood could ward off evil spirits, so it symbolizes safeguarding and security.

Every 1-2 weeks
2500 - 10000 Lux
Every 2-3 years
Spring to early summer
As needed
  • water dropWater

    Spindle tree requires moderate watering, generally about once a week. During the growing season in spring and summer, ensure that the soil remains moist but not waterlogged, by providing approximately 1 gallon of water per week, depending on rainfall and soil drainage. In the fall and winter, you can reduce the frequency as the plant requires less water. It's important to check the top inch of soil for dryness before watering again. Overwatering can cause root rot, so be cautious not to let the Spindle tree sit in standing water.

  • sunLight

    Spindle tree thrives in full sun to partial shade. The ideal spot would offer morning sunlight with some afternoon shade, especially in regions with very hot summers. This plant is adaptable but will have the best growth and foliage color in bright, indirect light or dappled sunlight, which can protect it from the harsh midday sun.

  • thermometerTemperature

    Spindle tree prefers a temperate climate, with an ideal temperature range between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. It can tolerate temperatures as low as 30 degrees Fahrenheit in winter and up to 85 degrees Fahrenheit in summer. Frost can damage the foliage, so it’s best to protect the plant or bring it indoors if temperatures are expected to drop below the minimum threshold.

  • scissorsPruning

    Prune Spindle tree to maintain shape and encourage bushier growth; the best time for pruning is late winter or early spring before the new growth starts. Light pruning can be done throughout the year to remove dead or damaged branches. It’s generally not necessary to prune more than once a year unless shaping for a specific landscape purpose.

  • broomCleaning

    As needed

  • bambooSoil

    Spindle Tree thrives in well-draining soil with a mix of two parts garden soil, one part peat, and one part perlite or coarse sand. The optimal soil pH for Spindle Tree should be slightly acidic to neutral, around pH 6.0 to 7.0.

  • plantRepotting

    Spindle Trees should be repotted every two to three years to ensure they have enough room for root growth and to replace nutrient-depleted soil.

  • water dropsHumidity & Misting

    Spindle Tree prefers moderate humidity levels, around 40-60%, to thrive and maintain healthy foliage.

  • pinSuitable locations

    • Indoor

      Place Spindle Tree in bright, indirect light indoors, away from drafts.

    • Outdoor

      Plant Spindle Tree in partial shade with shelter from winds outdoors.

    • Hardiness zone

      6-9 USDA.

  • circleLife cycle

    The Spindle Tree (Euonymus cornutus var. quinquecornutus) begins its life as a seed, typically dispersed by wildlife or environmental factors. Germination requires stratification, a process of exposing the seed to cold temperatures to break dormancy, followed by warming temperatures that simulate spring. After germination, the seedling emerges, developing into a juvenile plant with characteristic opposite leaves. As it matures, the Spindle Tree develops woody stems and begins to produce distinctive greenish-yellow flowers during the spring, which are pollinated by insects. Following pollination, the flowers develop into colorful, lobed fruits, which open to reveal attractive seeds with fleshy arils, a feature that assists in seed dispersal. The plant reaches full maturity in several years, completing its life cycle upon senescence and death after reaching reproductive maturity and contributing to the next generation through its seeds.

  • sproutPropogation

    • Propogation time

      Spring to early summer

    • Propogation: The most popular method of propagating the plant commonly known as Spindle Tree is by seed. The best time for sowing seeds is in the fall after the seeds are harvested. Fresh seeds have a higher germination rate but may need a period of cold stratification to break dormancy. To achieve this, one can mix the seeds with moist sand or peat and refrigerate for about three months. After the cold treatment, the seeds can be sown about half an inch deep in well-drained soil and should germinate in the following spring. Since spindle tree's germination can be unpredictable, it may sometimes take more than one season for seedlings to emerge.