Spindle Euonymous europaeus

The Spindle is a bushy tree native to Europe, including Britain, Turkey and the Caucasus. It is common in hedges and woods on lime-rich soils and has been planted in many gardens. Its wood is hard and fine-grained and was used to make spindles for wool spinning. The small white flowers appear in May. It has a very unusual looking fruit which is in the form of orange berries in a 4-lobed pink capsule. The leaves are similar to Blackthorn but paired and opposite. It is a member of the Euonymus family, from which a huge number of ornamental garden plants have been developed.

Spindle tree in September

A Spindle tree in a churchyard in September.

Spindle tree leaves

The leaves are Blackthorn-shaped but arranged opposite one another on the shoot. Blackthorn leaves are alternate.

Spindle tree leaves and fruit in autumn

Leaves and fruit in September

Spindle tree bark

The bark of an old tree is ridged

Spindle tree flower

The flower is tiny. Each flower has 4 yellow-green petals and 4 upright green stamens tipped with yellow anthers

Spindle tree fruit in autumn

In some years the trees are heavily loaded with fruit in late October. It has a very unusual looking fruit which is in the form of orange berries in a 4-lobed pink capsule. 

Spindle tree capsules

Fruit at the end of September

Spindle tree capsules and berries

Orange ‘berries’ sit inside the pink capsule. Technically the ‘berries’ are arils, like a Yew ‘berry’.