Wintercreeper

Scientific Name: Euonymus fortunei
Family Name: Celastraceae




Leaves: Opposite, elliptical leaves 1 – 2 in. (2.5 – 5 cm.) long, green on the inside with irregular white borders and very tough.



Shrub: Wintercreeper grows in both a shrub and a vine form. In shrub form, it is 4 in. (10 cm.) tall, and in vine form it can grow up to 25 ft. (6 m.) tall. The bark is light brown and rough.

Fruit: a 1/3 in. (9 mm.) capsule with a scarlet berry inside.

Identifying Characteristics: The leaves, with their white borders, distinguish Wintercreeper plant from other shrubs and vines.

Location: We found Wintercreeper growing in Cold Spring Park in Newton, MA.

History and Comments: Wintercreeper is native to Asia, and it was imported in the early 1900's to serve as a decorative ground cover. However, it has escaped cultivation, and it forms dense mats, which choke off all native plants. Wintercreeper also grows as a vine on trees and buildings. Mat wintercreeper seldom flowers and fruits, while vine wintercreeper almost always does. Wintercreeper is highly invasive, because birds eat its fruit and distribute it to new habitats. Wintercreeper has only recently been recognized as an invasive species in the Northeast.



    Unless otherwise specified, all text, photographs, and drawings are Copyright (c) by Shu-Yee Chen and Deborah Hamer 2003. No part of this page may be reproduced without prior written consent of the authors.