Sakhalin euonymus - Euonymus sachalinensis

English name:
Sakhalin euonymus

Scientific name:
Euonymus sachalinensis

Celastraceae (spindle-tree)

up to 4 m.

Mid May

Japan, Korea , Manchuria and Russian Far East

Euonymus sachalinensis
Euonymus sachalinensis Euonymus sachalinensis

The 68 year-old, 4 m tall
Euonymus sachalinensis in the main picture comes from the well known Danish nurseryman, Aksel Olsen. This is the largest specimen in our collection. It is found in our collection of birches: square 1306 position 3538.  

Plant description: 
One of my co-workers said that this is one of the best times of the year at the Hørsholm Arboretum.  I certainly agree!  Most of the summers weeds have been cut, the sunny days are still warm and the spectacular colours of autumn have begun.  One of the early plants to start the autumn show is Euonymus sachalinensis. The leaves of this species are already beginning to fall off by October 1, however, the red fruits can remain on the branches throughout this month. But dont wait to come and see this plant as it is truly at its best when both the fruits and leaves are displaying their colours.  

The genus Euonymus is widely distributed in Europe, Asia, North and South America, Madagascar and Australia (one species).  Plants in this genus can be trees, shrubs, creepers or climbers.  Leaves are opposite (evergreen in most, but not all species) and the fruits (or capsules) hang loosely from the current years shoots in groups of two or more.  Each capsule has three to five, one-seeded lobes which are brightly coloured. The seed are covered by a tough coat (aril) that is also often brightly coloured and hang freely outside the capsule.  The flowers are small, greenish, whitish, or rarely purple.  Some Euonymus species contain toxic glycosides and thus they are best considered to be poisonous without more specific information.  Besides being used as garden plants they have been used for making arrows, dye, skewers, spindles, violin bows and insect poison.  The genus has 170-200 species. We have 19 species of Euonymus growing in Hørsholm, about 10 % of all known species. There are 6 specimens of Euonymus sachalinensis, 5 of these 6 were collected in the wild in South Korea by the Nordic Arboretum Committee expedition in 1976.

Although introduced to the west in the 1890s, Euonymus sachalinensis (E. planipes) is first mentioned in Denmark in Aksel Olsens notes from 1930. Our oldest living plant is from 1936 and was supplied by Aksel Olsen.       

Euonymus sachalinensis is a deciduous bush or small tree up to 4 m tall. The bark becomes dark-grey with age, but when young has slightly lighter coloured vertical stripes and more noticeable whitish lenticels.  Twigs are olive-green, with large pointed winter buds that are often reddish in colour.  The leaves are opposite, up to 13 cm long and 7 cm broad, with finely saw-toothed edges.  They are variable in form, being egg-shaped; reverse egg-shaped, or oblong. The leaf tip can be rather drawn out or blunt.  The greenish flowers hang in loose groups and are about 8 mm across. The shiny-red fruits are globe-shaped, with 5 lobes and hang from long, thin, branched stalks. The seed are bright orange and hang from the tips of the lobes.      

This species can be seen in the catalogues of several Danish nurseries either as E. sachalinensis or E. planipes.  It makes a nice garden plant for early autumn leaf colour and with the red fruits hanging like small Japanese lamps.  The plant is hardy and seldom attacked by the insect larva that attack E. europaeus.      

Bean, W. J.  1973. Trees and shrubs hardy in the British Isles. Vol. II D-M. John Murray Pubs. Ltd. London.  784 pp.

Lange, J. 1994. Kulturplanternes Indførselshistorie i Danmark. (Introduction History of Cultivated Plants in Denmark). Jordbrugsforlaget, Frederiksberg.  458 pp.

Mabberley, D.J. 1998. The Plant Book. The Bath Press, Bath, 858 pp.

Ohwi, J. 1984. Flora of Japan (in English) Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C., 1067 pp.   

Olsen, O. et al. 1997 Havens Planteleksikon. Træer og Buske. (Danish Plant Encyclopedia, Trees & Bushes). Det Danske Haveselskab Publisher, 674 pp.