Climbing euonymus, also
known as wintercreeper, Emerald'n Gold, and Gaiety, is an evergreen, clinging
vine. It can form a dense groundcover or shrub to 3 feet in height,
or climb 40-70 foot high vertical surfaces with the aid of aerial roots. Dark
green, shiny, egg-shaped leaves, from 1-2 ½ inches long, with toothed
margins and silvery veins, occur in pairs along the stems. Stems are
narrow, minutely warty, and have abundant rootlets or trailing roots. Clusters
of inconspicuous green-white flowers are produced on a long stalk from June
to July and are followed in the autumn by pinkish to red capsules that split
open to expose seeds adorned with a fleshy orange seed coat, or aril.
Traits that make climbing
euonymus a desirable ornamental plant, such as its rapid growth, evergreen
nature and tolerance of harsh conditions, also make euonymus a threat to
natural areas. Climbing euonymus can outcompete native vegetation by
depleting soil moisture and nutrients, blocking sunlight, and by forming
a dense vegetative mat that impedes the growth of seedlings of native species. Vines
on trees continue climbing and can eventually overtop them, covering the
leaves and preventing photosynthesis.
IN THE UNITED STATES
Climbing euonymus is currently scattered throughout
the eastern U.S. in populated areas.
HABITAT IN THE UNITED STATES
euonymus tolerates a variety of environmental conditions, including poor
soils, full sun to dense shade, and a wide pH range. It does not do
well in heavy wet soils. Natural forest openings resulting from wind
throw, insect defoliation or fire are vulnerable to invasion and provide
conditions for satellite populations of climbing euonymus to get started.
Climbing euonymus was introduced
into the U.S. in 1907 as an ornamental ground cover.
BIOLOGY & SPREAD
spreads vegetatively with the help of lateral shoots produced along its long
main branches and by new plants that emerge from rootlets also produced along
the stem at short intervals. Vines climb rocks, trees, and other supporting
structures. Flowers formed in the summer produce mature fruits by fall
that are equipped with fleshy edible structures (arils) that are fed on by
birds and other wildlife which disperse it. Climbing euonymus also escapes
from neglected gardens and is carried by by water, to undisturbed forest
and riparian areas.
variety of mechanical and chemical methods are available for management of
climbing euonymus. Grubbing, a rather labor intensive method, is effective
for small populations or environmentally sensitive areas where herbicides
cannot be used. Using a pulaksi or similar digging tool, remove the
entire plant, inlcluding all roots and runners. Juvenile plants can
be hand-pulled when the soil is moist and root systems are small. Any
portions of the root system remaining may resprout. All plant parts
including stem fragments and mature fruits should be bagged and disposed
of in a trash dumpster to prevent reestablishment.
Cut stem application
Cut stem treatment, using systemic herbicides
applied to freshly cut stems, is effective in areas where vines are well
established on or around non-target plants, or where they have grown into
tree canopies or other vertical surfaces. Cut the stem as close to the ground
as possible and immediately apply a 25% solution of glyphosate (e.g., Roundup®)
or triclopyr (e.g., Garlon) and water to the cut stem. This procedure is
effective at temperatures as low as 40° F. Subsequent foliar application
of these herbicides may be required. Cutting without the application
of herbicides is generally not recommended because this will lead to root
Foliar applications of herbicide can be used
to control large populations. It may be necessary to precede foliar sprays
with cut stem treatments to reduce the risk of damage to non-target plants.
Apply a 2% solution of glyphosate or triclopyr and water plus a 0.5% non-ionic
surfactant to thoroughly wet all foliage but not so heavily that it drips
off leaves where it may affect desirable plants. Glyphosate is a non-selective
systemic (i.e., travels through the plant vessels) herbicide that may kill
even partially sprayed plants. Triclopyr is selective to broad leaf species
and is a better choice if desirable native grasses are present. Ambient air
temperature should be above 65° F.
USE PESTICIDES WISELY: ALWAYS READ THE ENTIRE PESTICIDE LABEL CAREFULLY, FOLLOW ALL MIXING AND APPLICATION INSTRUCTIONS AND WEAR ALL RECOMMENDED PERSONAL PROTECTIVE GEAR AND CLOTHING. CONTACT YOUR STATE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE FOR ANY ADDITIONAL PESTICIDE USE REQUIREMENTS, RESTRICTIONS OR RECOMMENDATIONS.
NOTICE: MENTION OF PESTICIDE PRODUCTS ON THIS WEB SITE DOES NOT CONSTITUTE ENDORSEMENT OF ANY MATERIAL.
For more information on
the management of climbing euonymus, please contact:
SUGGESTED ALTERNATIVE PLANTS
- Kris Johnson, Great Smoky Mountains
National Park, Gatlinburg, TN
a variety of native creeping or climbing vines that make good alternatives for
climbing euonymus. Some examples from the eastern U.S. include trumpet creeper
(Campsis radicans), Dutchman's pipe (Aristolochia macrophylla),
crossvine (Bignonia capreolata), trumpet honeysuckle (Lonicera
sempervirens), American bittersweet (Celastrus scandens), and American
wisteria (Wisteria frutescens), our only native wisteria*.
*NOTE: When purchasing
or planting wisteria, make certain it is the native American wisteria (Wisteria
frutescens) and not exotic Chinese wisteria (Wisteria
sinensis) or Japanese wisteria (Wisteria
floribunda), both of which are aggressive exotic invaders of natural
areas and are difficult to control.
Tom Remaley, Great Smoky Mountains National
Park, Gatlinburg, TN
Jil M. Swearingen, National Park
Service, Washington, DC
Tom Remaley, Great Smoky Mountains National
Park, Gatlinburg, TN
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