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Burning bush: an invasive beauty

Common Name : Burning Bush

Science-y Name : Euonymus alatus

Native or Non : Burning Bush is non-native and was introduced to the US from Asia in the mid 1800s. It is listed as an invasive species in many states, including New Hampshire. Its seedlings and root suckers will quickly take over a landscape and crowd out other plants.

Characteristics : A healthy Burning Bush brings interest to a yard in every season and is a common plant we see and care for in southern New Hampshire. The bark is rough and sometimes flares away from the branches up to a quarter of an inch, so some people call it a winged euonymus. If you see a euonymus alatus with these wings of corky bark framing a branch you are likely looking at an older bush that has been on a property for many, many years. The structure and bark of a burning bush gives it extra interest in winter when everything is bare. In spring the leaves fill in quickly and the bush has full foliage through to the fall, when it showcases what its name is all about. Burning Bush is one of the first to turn a brilliant and eye-catching red. It’s the kind of color that makes a New Englander proud!

Fun Fact : This is a literal super plant. It grows in sun, it grows in shade, it will grow in practically

any soil type. Even the US Fire Effects Information System doesn’t have solid information on how fire affects invasive populations of the burning bush. Attempts to kill it with herbicide or controlled burn have had limited success as well as new growth was present on the root crown after both control measures were applied.

It’s like the land version of eurasia watermilfoil. Please don’t plant it.

Care Considerations : RAG Thyme will care for an existing Burning Bush, but will not plant a new bush because of the plant’s invasive listing. It produces berries in the fall that drop to the ground under the canopy and easily take root in the soil. Birds also eat the berries and then spread the seeds all over your yard. (A natural result of digestion…) Seeds of a Burning Bush will take to soil quickly and sprout up before you know it.

RAG Thyme gardeners will trim and shape a Burning Bush to keep it a beautiful feature in your yard throughout the year. We pull seedlings to keep them from growing and trim back root suckers to control overall growth.

We will also remove a smaller Burning Bush on request. A large, well established burning bush will likely require machinery to really get it out.

Contact us to get an estimate on RAG Thyme services for your yard and garden! We’ll help existing plants stay brilliant, or suggest alternatives with as much beauty and personality.

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