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Winged burning bush added to state's noxious weed list in 2020

Emilie Justen
The winged burning bush (above) displays its bright red leaves during the fall season.

A popular landscape plant, winged burning bush (Euonymus alatus) 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 Jan. 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 five to 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 out compete 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. 

Reporting potential threats to Arrest the Pest

To report a pest there are three important steps:

• Take pictures of the pest

• Take notes of the exact location of the pest (insect, plant or disease)

• Report findings to Arrest the Pest by sending an e-mail to arrest.the.pest@state.mn.us, or call 1-888-545-6684.

Learn more at www.mda.state.mn.us/.

– Emilie Justen works in plant protection for the Minnesota Department of Agriculture

– Image courtesy of the Minnesota Department of Agriculture Web site