Friday, October 10, 2014

Psychedelic Spindle

I was a teenager in the 1960s, so inevitably the vibrant colours of these spindle Euonymus europaeus fruits remind me of the colours used in psychedelic art during the period. This must surely be our most colourful hedgerow tree, not least because its foliage also turns crimson in October.

























When the fruit splits open it reveals the seeds, which are covered in an extra fleshy orange layer known as the aril, which makes them attractive to birds. Very few British native plants have seeds with arils, although they are common in the tropical flora - the fleshy edible part of a lychee is an aril.

Sadly, spindle is now an uncommon hedgerow tree through much of its range because in winter it's the alternative host of black bean aphid that infests bean crops in summer, so it has been deliberately eradicated in some arable-growing areas. 

9 comments:

  1. Had to look this tree up, not come across it before. If not in flower would be missed.
    Amanda

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    1. The little green flowers are underwhelming but in autumn it really lights up a hedgerow!

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  2. Replies
    1. One of my favourite small trees in autumn

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  3. I have never seen one of these and now it seems highly unlikely that I shall ever do so. How sad.

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    1. Easy to grow in the garden though. There's a variety called Red Cascade that has particularly vivid autumn colour.

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  4. I agree with you about the colours of the fruits which are very surprising and there is one near here which also has the pink foliage - quite a show.

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    1. I think it's the most colourful shrub in the hedgerow at this time of year. Only sorry that it doesn't grow wild up here in County Durham!

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  5. I was out walking yesterday in mid Devon through lanes lined by banks containing quite few wild spindle trees which, with their fruit and foliage, illuminated the landscape.

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