Spindle (Euonymus europeaus)

There are some plants that have really insignificant, sometimes almost indiscernible, flowers but come in to their own when autumn arrives and their fruits emerge. Holly is one that comes to mind but the Spindle is undoubtedly another.

Spindle is not an uncommon shrub, probably overlooked for much of the year. In summer it has tiny little creamy green four petalled flowers just a few millimetres across. In the autumn they produce these brilliant coral pink seed cases that could almost be flowers in their own right. Then the seed cases split to reveal a bright orange fruit inside. Quite unique amongst our wild flora and easy to pick out.

Spindle occurs mainly on our chalk downland and lime rich soils. It has thin twiggy branches, hence our use of the word 'spindly' for anything thin. The wood, however, is white in colour and hard and smooth in texture which led to it being used for traditional spindles that were used in spinning wool and cotton. It was also the primary plant for producing artist's charcoal.

Altogether an interesting plant that is popular with insets too.

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