Euonymus japonicus

Japanese spindle tree

Also known as:

Winged euonymus, Japanese laurel

Family: Celastraceae

Origin: Asia

Japanese Spindle Tree stem tips with red berries.
Evergreen tree growing up to 7m tall. Frequently seen as a smaller shrub.
Photo credit: Rod Smart

Regional Pest Management Plan (RPMP) status

  • National Pest Plant Accord Species
  • Whole region — Sustained control

View more about the RPMP statuses

General description

Evergreen shrub or small tree < 7 m tall. Twigs are four-ribbed and wrinkled when dry. Leaves are oval, finely serrated, glossy and opposite. Flowers are small, green and borne in clusters. Seed capsules are round, pink and fleshy.

What you need to know

To help protect our environment:

  • You must not breed, distribute, release or sell Japanese spindle tree. As Japanese spindle tree is a National Pest Plant Accord species, these restrictions apply within the Auckland region and across the whole of New Zealand.
  • You must not plant Japanese spindle tree within the Auckland region, unless you are transferring an existing plant on your land to another location within the boundaries of the same property.
  • You must destroy any Japanese spindle tree on land that you occupy if it has been planted in breach of the above rules and you are directed to do so by an authorised person.


Disturbed forest and shrubland, coastal shrub, bare land, forest margins, cliffs.


Seeds dispersed by birds, water, soil movement and possibly possums.

Impact on environment

Forms dense stands and is assumed to exclude native plants and prevent seedling recruitment.


Site Management

Follow up treated areas 3 times per year. Encourage natural regeneration of native plants or replant treated areas where possible after 2-3 treatments to establish dense ground cover and minimise reinvasion.

Recommended approaches

Physical control

Method: Dig out.

Plant parts requiring disposal: Seeds.

Disposal options: Remove to greenwaste or landfill if practical.


Biocontrol is currently not available for this species.

Community agrichemical control recommendations

No qualifications: Cut stump and paste freshly cut base of stems with metsulfuron gel. Large stems can be frilled and pasted with metsulfuron gel.

Basic Growsafe certified: Cut stump and spray freshly cut base with 1g metsulfuron-methyl per 1 L of water.

Certified Handler/Experienced agrichemical user: Foliar spray with 5g metsulfuron-methyl per 10L of water and 20ml penetrant.

Caution: When using any herbicide or pesticide please read the label thoroughly to ensure that all instructions and safety requirements are followed.

Japanese Spindle Tree with opening seed capsules.
Flowers are small, green and appear in clusters. Seed capsules are pink and fleshy.
Photo credit: Holly Cox
Japanese Spindle Tree overgrown with muehlenbeckia.
Plants can set seed when very small. Seeds spread by birds and possums.