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SPOTLIGHT ON
IRISH NATIVE SPINDLE

About the Spindle
(lat: Euonymus europaea):


Irish native spindle ...
Euonymus europaeus ...
An Feoras

The Irish shrub commonly known as the Spindle Berry or European Spindle (Euonymus europaeus) is known by many other common names such as Fusanum, Fusoria, Ananbeam and Robins' bread

What does spindle look like?

Overview: mature trees grow to 6m and can live for more than 100 years. The bark and twigs are deep green, becoming darker with age, and have light brown, corky like winged markings. Twigs are thin and straight.

Leaves: the leaves are shiny and slightly waxy, and have tiny sharp teeth along the edges. They turn a rich orange-red in the autumn.

Flowers: spindle is hermaphrodite, meaning each flower contains both male and female reproductive parts. Flowers have four petals and grow in clusters, in May and June, and are pollinated by insects.

Fruits: after pollination flowers develop into bright pink fruits with bright orange seeds, which look like popcorn.

Identified in winter by: the vivid pink fruits have bright orange seeds. Buds and twigs are angular and green.

Where to find spindle:
It is native to much of Europe and can be found most commonly on the edges of forests and in hedges, scrub and hedgerows. It thrives best in chalky soils, so put some of the teachers chalk into the pot when planting!!

Value to wildlife:
The leaves are eaten by caterpillars of a number of moths, including the magpie, spindle ermine, scorched carpet and a variety of micro moths, as well as the holly blue butterfly. The leaves also attract aphids and therefore their predators, including hoverflies, ladybirds and lacewings, as well as the house sparrow and other species of bird. So everything depends on the survival of the other species in a sustainable and natural way. The flowers are a rich source of nectar and pollen for insects, particularly the St Mark's fly and our friend the bee.

When applying for your sapling tree, you need to consider where the tree will live and grow for the rest of its life.
Irish native Spindle


Irish native Spindle


Irish native Spindle


Irish native Spindle
Mythology and symbolism:
Its botanical name, Euonymus is from the Greek, 'eu', meaning 'good' and 'onama', meaning 'name'. This is said to have meant 'lucky'. However, in some areas, it was also thought that if the spindle flowered early, an outbreak of the plague was likely.

How we use spindle:
Spindle timber is creamy white, hard and dense. In the past it was used to make 'spindles' for spinning and holding wool (hence its name), as well as skewers, toothpicks, pegs and knitting needles. The fruits were baked and powdered and used to treat head lice or mange in cattle. Both the leaves and fruit are not for eating by humans – the berries have a laxative effect. But in saying that, it used be used to add a colour to butter. Today spindle timber is used to make high-quality charcoal for artists to draw with.
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