The Floridata website says that as many as 170 separate species of a plant called Euonymus grow in different parts of the northern hemisphere. One with the scientific name of Euonymus alatus, nicknamed burning bush, is a native species in Korea and parts of China, but now grows in the wild across some northern states in the U.S. The ornamental burning bush’s seeds made their way into rural countryside via the wind and with the help of birds and small mammals. Now the shrub is a naturalized species as well as a landscaping plant.
Also called a winged euonymus, the burning bush has a natural vase shape, spreading outward more and more as it grows, with a base narrower than its top section. In the open and left to grow without pruning, the burning bush can be 20 feet tall and as wide as 6 to 10 feet. The compacted hybrid form is able to grow to 12 feet tall and have an even wider spread, with some 15 feet across.
The green foliage of the burning bush gives the tree its name from its habit of turning brilliant red colors in the fall. However, the tree also has appeal during the winter even after losing its leaves. The stems have corky extensions along the length of the stem, which resemble wings, and will hold onto snow after a storm, making the burning bush an attractive sight. The leaves are about 3 inches long and grow opposite each other on the stems. The flowers that develop in spring are yellow-green and have four petals but are quite small. However, the flowers turn into reddish fruits that hold the orange-red seeds, which can stay on the tree after the leaves fall off.
The burning bush grows slowly, and you can prune one to keep it a smaller and more manageable size. It will grow well in the full sun but the species can also handle large amounts of shade. The burning bush needs watering during drought conditions and requires a well-drained site in order to flourish. The type of soil matters little, as the burning bush adapts to alkaline, acidic, sandy and rocky terrain. You can start this species from seed, but the seeds need exposure to cold for as long as three months or they will not germinate.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources website warns that an insect known as a scale can attack a burning bush and cause significant damage. The scale that finds the burning bush as a potential food source is dark-colored, with a hard shell. The bug makes its way into the branches and twigs, chewing on the tissue that exists there, resulting in the shrub wilting where the infestation occurs.
The vibrant color of a burning bush in autumn makes it a prominent landscaping shrub. You can typically depend on the burning bush to provide your property with deep red shades each year. Many people will place this species on the edges of woodlands on their acreage or grow the plant by itself where its attributes are on display for everyone to observe. The vase shape will develop naturally, or you can prune a specimen into a rounded form. The species, when planted in close proximity to each other and trimmed, makes an excellent hedge.