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Winter Creeper
Euonymus fortunei (Tursz.) Hand.-Maz.

International Code - EUFO5
FIA survey code - 3042

Miller, James H. 2003. Nonnative invasive plants of southern forests: a field guide for identification and control. Gen. Tech. Rep. SRS–62. Asheville, NC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Research Station. 93 p.

acrobat version

Plant. Evergreen woody vine climbing to 40 to 70 feet (12 to 22 m) and clinging by aerial roots or rooting at nodes, or standing as a shrub to 3 feet (1 m) in height. Leaves thick and dark green or green-white variegated on green stems. Pinkish-to-red capsules splitting open in fall to expose fleshy orange seeds.

Stem. Twigs stout, lime green, and hairless becoming increasingly dusted and streaked with light-gray reddish corky bark. Patches or lines of protruding aerial roots underneath or along surfaces used for attachment. Branches opposite, leaf scars thin upturned white crescents, and branch scars jutting and containing a light semicircle. Older stems covered with gray corky bark becoming fissured and then checked.

Leaves. Opposite broadly oval, moderately thick, with bases tapering to petiole. One to 2.5 inches (2.5 to 6 cm) long and 1 to 1.8 inches (2.5 to 4.5 cm) wide. Margins finely crenate, somewhat turned under, to wavy. Blades smooth glossy, hairless, dark green with whitish mid- and lateral veins (or variegated green white above and light green beneath). Petioles 0.15 to 0.4 inch (0.4 to 1 cm) long.

Flowers. May to July. Axillary clusters of small greenish-yellow inconspicuous flowers at the ends of Y-shaped stems, each flower 0.1 inch (2 to 3 mm) wide. Five petals. Pistils soon elongating with fruit.

Fruit and seeds. September to November. Dangling paired or single pinkish-to-red capsules, 0.2 to 0.4 inch (5 to 10 mm) long, splitting to reveal a fleshy orange-to-red covered seed.

Ecology. Forms dense ground cover and can climb trees eventually overtopping them. Shade tolerant occurring under dense stands but avoiding wet areas. Colonizes by trailing and climbing vines that root at nodes, and spreads by bird-, other animal-, and water-dispersed seeds.

Resembles the larger leaved species of blueberry, Vaccinium spp., but their leaves are alternate. Possibly resembles the opposite- and thick-leaved rusty blackhaw, Viburnum rufidulum Raf., which is distinguished by dark buds in each axil.

History and use. Introduced from Asia in 1907. Ornamental ground cover.

Photo by J. Miller

Photo by K. Langdon

Photo by J. Miller

Photo by J. Miller

Photo by J. Miller

Photo by J. Miller

Photo by J. Miller

Photo by J. Miller

States with suspected infestations are shown in gray.

Recommended control procedures:

  • Thoroughly wet all leaves (until runoff) with one of the following herbicides in water with a surfactant (July to October for successive years): Tordon 101* ‡ as a 3-percent solution (12 ounces per 3-gallon mix) or Tordon K* ‡ as a 2-percent solution (8 ounces per 3-gallon mix).
  • Or, repeatedly apply Garlon 4 or a glyphosate herbicide as a 2-percent solution (8 ounces per 3-gallon mix) in water with a surfactant, a less effective treatment that has no soil activity to damage surrounding plants.
  • Cut all vertical climbing stems to prevent fruiting and spread by birds.

*   Nontarget plants may be killed or injured by root uptake.
‡   When using Tordon herbicides, rainfall must occur within 6 days after application for needed soil activation. Tordon herbicides are Restricted Use Pesticides.

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USDA Forest ServiceUSDA APHIS PPQ The Bugwood Network University of Georgia is a joint project of
The Bugwood Network, USDA Forest Service & USDA APHIS PPQ.
The University of Georgia - Warnell School of Forest Resources and
College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences - Dept. of Entomology
Last updated on Wednesday, November 05, 2003 at 01:37 PM
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