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What is a Dwarf Burning Bush?

Christina Edwards
Christina Edwards

Euonymus alatus Compacta, otherwise known as a dwarf burning bush, is the smaller version of the more well known burning bush. It is also known by such names as the winged wahoo, winged spindle, and cork bush. This deciduous shrub has leaves that turn a bright red color during the autumn months. It then loses its leaves in the winter, and reddish berries are left on the branches. The dwarf burning bush shrub is native to East Asia, but it is now planted for aesthetic reasons in gardens across the world.

Dwarf burning bushes generally grow a bit wider than they are tall. On average, the height of these bushes is usually around four to six feet (about one to two meters). The width can range from six to ten feet (two to three meters) across.

Man mowing the grass
Man mowing the grass

Dwarf burning bushes are a favorite of many gardeners, not only because of the beautiful foliage produced during the fall. The reason for this is that they are very low maintenance and can grow in just about any type of soil. It can grow in shade, but to produce the bright red foliage, it does the best in full to partial sun.

The leaves of the dwarf burning bush are roughly two inches (five centimeters) in length and elliptical in shape with a pointed end. Many experts believe that the serrated edges of the leaves help keep away many animals that would otherwise make a meal of them. In the spring and summer months, the leaves range from a medium to dark green. During the fall, the leaves turn a brilliant scarlet red color before falling off for the winter.

The flowers of the this bush are very small and considered to be inconspicuous. They bloom in the spring, and they are greenish yellow in color. The seed pods, or arils, of the dwarf burning bush is a reddish-orange color, and they are eaten by many varieties of birds. These seed pods often stay on the bush for at least part of the winter.

Originally found growing wild in East Asia, the dwarf burning bush is thought to have been introduced to the United States sometime around the middle of the 19th century. By the beginning of the 20th century, it was being grown in nurseries and sold to be planted in gardens. In many parts of eastern United States, this shrub is considered to be an invasive species, as it can easily replace the native local bushes and make it difficult for other plants to grow. Despite these warnings, however, the dwarf burning bush is still a popular choice for gardens.

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