Herb: Japanese Spindle Tree

Latin name: Euonymus japonicus

Family: Celastraceae (Bittersweet Family)

Medicinal use of Japanese Spindle Tree:

The stem bark is antirheumatic, diuretic and tonic. The leaf is used in cases of difficult delivery.

Description of the plant:


4.5 m
(15 feet)

May to

Habitat of the herb:

Slopes in thickets and woods, especially near the sea.

Edible parts of Japanese Spindle Tree:

Young leaves - boiled. The old leaves are powdered and used to colour food. These reports should be treated with some caution due to the report of toxicity - see above.

Other uses of the herb:

Roots and stems yield up to 7% gutta-percha, a non elastic rubber used as an electrical insulator and in making plastics etc. Can be grown as a hedge, it is very tolerant of trimming and succeeds in severe maritime exposure.

Propagation of Japanese Spindle Tree:

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. Stored seed requires 3 months cold stratification, so should be sown as early in the year as possible in a cold frame. Seed can take 18 months to germinate. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 5 - 7cm long taken at a node or with a heel, July/August in a frame. Very easy. Cuttings of mature wood, October in a frame. Cuttings will root readily at any time of the year if given bottom heat. Root cuttings in winter.

Cultivation of the herb:

Slopes in thickets and woods, especially near the sea.

Known hazards of Euonymus japonicus:

The seed is probably poisonous, other parts of the plant may also be poisonous.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.