winter creeper

Celastrales > Celastraceae > Euonymus fortunei (Turcz.) Hand.-Maz.
Synonym(s): climbing euonymus

Winter creeper is an evergreen, woody vine that invades forests throughout the eastern United States. The plant can be a small shrub, growing in mats along the forest floor to 3 ft. (0.9 m) in height, or a vine climbing trees to heights of 40-70 ft. (12.2-21.3 m). The opposite leaves are dark green, oval, slightly toothed, glossy, thick, < 1 in. (2.5 cm) long and often with silvery-white venation. The young stems are green, becoming light gray and corky with age. Flowers are inconspicuous, yellow-green, five petaled and develop in mid-summer. Plants usually only flower when climbing and almost never when trailing along the ground. Fruit are pinkish-red capsules that open to show orange seeds. Winter creeper aggressively invades open forests, forest margins, and openings. The dense ground cover often resulting from an infestation can displace native understory species and restrict tree seedling establishment. Winter creeper can also smother and kill shrubs and small trees. Winter creeper is native to Asia and was first introduced into the United States in 1907 as an ornamental ground cover plant.


Identification, Biology, Control and Management Resources

  • Weeds of the Week - USDA Forest Service, Northeastern Area, Forest Health Protection

Selected Images from Invasive.org

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Foliage; May
James H. Miller, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org
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Foliage; May
James H. Miller, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org
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Plant(s); May
James H. Miller, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org
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Foliage; with fruit
Keith Langdon, National Park Service, Bugwood.org
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Feature(s); May
James H. Miller, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org
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Feature(s); Stem with distinctive buds in May
James H. Miller, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org
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Feature(s); Stem with small patch of aerial roots in May
James H. Miller, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org
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Stem(s); December
James H. Miller, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org
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Foliage;
Chris Evans, River to River CWMA, Bugwood.org
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Plant(s);
Chris Evans, River to River CWMA, Bugwood.org
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Plant(s);
Chris Evans, River to River CWMA, Bugwood.org
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Infestation;
Chris Evans, River to River CWMA, Bugwood.org
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Invasive Reference(s):

Check Invasive.org for most current lists.
  • Georgia - EPPC list
  • Kentucky - EPPC List
  • Rhode Island - Noxious Weed Law
  • South Carolina - EPPC List
  • Tennessee - EPPC List
  • Virginia - Invasive Alien Plant Species
  • Mid-Atlantic - EPPC List
  • Invasive Plants: Guide to Identification and the Impacts and Control of Common North American Species
  • Invasive Plants of the Upper Midwest


External Links


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USDA Forest Service Bugwood University of Georgia