A Better Burning Bush?

By Susan Littlefield

Burning bush, Euonymus alatus, has become a popular landscape plant in many parts of the country, especially valued for its easy care and vivid red fall color. Unfortunately, it is also a vigorous spreader that invades forests throughout the eastern U.S. and is on the invasive species list in at least fifteen states. The seeds of this eastern Asian native, also known as winged euonymus for the distinctive ″wings″ on its branches, are produced prolifically and spread to woodlands by birds and rainwater, where the plants produce dense thickets that crowd out native vegetation.

So news of the development of a sterile, non-invasive cultivar of this shrub is welcome indeed. The laboratory of Professor Yi Li at the University of Connecticut's College of Agriculture and Natural Resources has bred a seedless variety of this shrub that still puts on a spectacular display of fall color, but doesn't present a threat to natural forests and woodlands. The new non-invasive burning bush is a triploid seedless variety that was developed from the popular dwarf cultivar Euonymus alatus 'Compactus'.

The research team is now working to patent the process they used to regenerate the burning bush triploid and hope to make this non-invasive variety available to the commercial horticultural industry in the near future. Then responsible gardeners will once again be able to enjoy this colorful plant in their landscapes with a clear conscience.

To read more about the development of this sterile burning bush, go to: UConn Today.

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