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Euonymus alatus (Thunb.) Sieb. var. alatus
Euonymus alatus (Thunb.) Sieb. var. apterus Regel
Other continents: Burningbush's native distribution extends from central China to northeastern Asia [5,19,33,42,49]. Besides central and eastern China, burningbush occurs in Korea, the Sakhalin islands of eastern Russia, and Japan . It was introduced in Europe and North America as an ornamental [10,15].
Invasion history in the United States: Burningbush was first introduced in the United States in the 1860s . It has escaped cultivation or become invasive mostly in the northeastern United States.
Northeast: Burningbush was well established in some parts of the Northeast by the late 20th century. It had established near Palestine in Wirt County, West Virginia, by 1977 . In a 1985 Michigan flora, burningbush was noted as rarely escaping cultivation but spreading "occasionally" into woodlands, thickets, and uncultivated urban and rural areas . In 1991, Gleason and Cronquist  described it as widely cultivated but only "locally escaped from cultivation" in the Northeast. By the turn of the 21st century, burningbush was locally invasive in many northeastern states. A 2002 fact sheet describes burningbush as most invasive in Connecticut, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Illinois . A 2006 review describes 21 states as "invaded" .
Midwest: As of 2009, burningbush was noted as invasive in the Midwest only in Illinois, where it was first reported as "naturalized" in Coles County in 1973 . By 1984, burningbush was reported from 13 Illinois counties . In 1989, burningbush was the dominant woody species invading the Waterworks Ravine Hill Prairie, where woody species were historically rare. Most other invading woody species were native. Mean density (and frequency) of burningbush was 7,809 stem/ha (66%) .
HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES:
In the Northeast, burningbush is invasive in pastures, glacial drift hill prairies, woodlands, and mature second-growth forests [20,22,33]. It may be common in late-successional oak-hickory (Quercus-Carya spp.), maple-beech (Acer-Fagus spp.), and other mixed-hardwood forests [22,33,51]. It is noted in mixed-oak forests and swamp chestnut oak-swamp white oak-Shumard's oak (Q. michauxii-Q bicolor-Q. shumardii) swamps of Great Falls National Park, Virginia  and in oak-hickory-sugar maple (Acer saccharum) forests of Illinois. It also occurs in little bluestem-Indian grass (Schizachyrium scoparium-Sorghastrum nutans) prairie in Illinois . In southern Connecticut, burningbush occurred in a mixed-hardwood forest with high densities of white-tailed deer. Due to browsing, woody understory vegetation was sparse except for sugar maple seedlings, burningbush, and other nonnative shrubs . See Palatability and/or nutritional value for more information on this study.
Distribution of nonnative species is often difficult to accurately describe due to a lack of details survey information, gaps in understanding of nonnative species' ecological characteristics, and because nonnative species may still be expanding their North American range. Therefore, burningbush may occur in plant communities other than those discussed here and listed in the Fire Regime Table.As of 2009, little English-language literature was available on burningbush's native habitats. In China, burningbush grows in forests, woodlands, and scrublands .
|Burningbush stem wings.
Photo courtesy of Duke University.
|Split burningbush capsules, showing orange arils within. Photo © Steve Baskauf.|
Burningbush is a rounded shrub that grows to 8.2 feet (2.5 m) tall [5,19]. The branches typically have prominent, corky wings [5,19,34,42,49], although stem wings are reduced to ridges or absent on some plants [4,16,33,38]. Burningbush is deciduous [5,19,49], with opposite leaves . The inflorescence is a long-peduncled cyme with perfect flowers . The fruit is a dehiscent capsule  containing up to to 4 seeds  that are enclosed in an aril  (see above right photo). A fact sheet describes burningbush's root system as deep and fibrous .
Stand structure: Based on limited studies, burningbush may form shrublands or dense forest understories; it is uncertain whether this pattern is typical on burningbush-invaded sites. Burningbush has formed dense thickets in Pennsylvania . In New York, burningbush was most common in the tall shrub layer of a yellow-poplar-red oak-American beech (Liriodendron tulipifera-Quercus rubra-Fagus grandifolia) forest :
Raunkiaer  life form:
|Fall color; burningbush seedlings in foreground. Photo © Barry A. Rice, The Nature Conservancy.|
|Seed production: A fact sheet described burningbush seed production as "prodigious" .
Seed banking: No information is available on this topic.
Germination: Passage through a bird's digestive system may increase germination rates , although this has not been confirmed experimentally. Commercial burningbush seeds are stratified to increase germination rates in the nursery and in the field .
Seedling establishment and plant growth: As of 2009, no published information was available on requirements for burningbush establishment and growth. The photo on the right illustrates burningbush establishing in oak litter; the photo in Seasonal Development shows burningbush seedlings establishing beneath parent plants. Seedlings are shade tolerant (see Successional Status), but it is uncertain whether growth rates differ between open than with closed canopies. Fact sheets variously describe burningbush as a fast-  or slow-growing  species.
|Photo by Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut, Bugwood.org.|
Vegetative regeneration: According to expert opinion  and fact sheets [13,38], burningbush sprouts from the root crown after top-kill from herbicides, so it is likely that it also sprouts following other top-killing events. Burningbush tolerates severe pruning .SITE CHARACTERISTICS:
In its native China, burningbush occurs in forests, woodlands, and scrublands from sea level to 8,900 feet (2,700 m) elevation . Elevational ranges for burningbush in North America were not available of as 2009.
Burningbush may tolerate elevated levels of soil methane. In New York, it was planted on landfill sites, where methane concentration was 0.9%; and on control sites, where methane was not detected in the soil. Burningbush persisted in landfill soils, although its growth was significantly greater in control soils (P<0.05) .SUCCESSIONAL STATUS:
Immediate fire effect on plant: There was no information on the direct effects of fire on burningbush as of 2009. According to expert opinion  and a fact sheet , herbicides may only top-kill burningbush, so it is likely that fire may also only top-kill burningbush.
Tall shrub, adventitious buds and/or a sprouting root crown
Small shrub, adventitious buds and/or a sprouting root crown
Initial off-site colonizer (off site, initial community)
Secondary colonizer (on- or off-site seed sources)
Fire adaptations and plant response to fire: Documentation of burningbush's adaptations and response to fire were lacking as of 2009. Since burningbush sprouts from the root crown after top-kill from herbicides [33,38], it is likely that it also sprouts from the root crown after top-kill by fire. Because birds disperse burningbush seed [20,33], postfire seedling establishment from off-site seed sources may occur. Research is needed on all aspects of burningbush's fire ecology.FUELS AND FIRE REGIMES:
Fire regimes: Burningbush grows in plant communities that historically experienced both long and short fire-return intervals. The northeastern beech-maple communities that burningbush has invaded [33,51] historically experienced stand-replacement fires at long fire-return intervals, with an estimated range of 230 to 4,970 years in New Hampshire . Oak-hickory communities historically had mostly short fire-return intervals. Some burningbush-invaded oak-hickory communities in Pennsylvania historically experienced low-severity surface fires at 4- to 7-year intervals. Short fire-return intervals kept stand structure open, usually maintaining the communities as woodlands . Several authors have noted cooccurrence of sugar maple and burningbush in oak-hickory forests [2,11]. On many sites, presence of sugar maple in oak-hickory communities may indicate that these burningbush-invaded forests now have longer fire-return intervals than were typical in the past (, review by Pallardy and others ). Research on how burningbush affects fire regimes of plant communities it has invaded was lacking as of 2009. See the Fire Regime Table for further information on fire regimes of vegetation communities in which burningbush may occur. Find further fire regime information for the plant communities in which this species may occur by entering the species name in the FEIS home page under "Find Fire Regimes".FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS:
Cover value: No information is available on this topic.
Burningbush is widely cultivated for its brilliant autumn foliage and distinctive branches .
IMPACTS AND CONTROL:
Impacts: According to a Pennsylvania fact sheet, burningbush may become invasive when planted near pastures, woodlands, and mature second-growth forests, but does not usually escape urban plantings. It is most invasive in moist forest habitats . Burningbush is often used in highway plantings , which may contribute to its seed spread.
Limited evidence suggests that in eastern mixed-hardwood forests, heavy white-tailed deer browsing of native shrubs may favor growth of burningbush and other nonnative shrubs  (see Palatability and/or nutritional value).
Photo by Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut, Bugwood.org.
In all cases where invasive species are targeted for control, no matter what method is employed, the potential for other invasive species to fill their void must be considered . Control of biotic invasions is most effective when it employs a long-term, ecosystem-wide strategy rather than a tactical approach focused on battling individual invaders .
Fire: There was no published information on prescribed fire use for controlling burningbush as of 2009.
General prevention of invasives: Preventing invasive plants from establishing in weed-free burned areas is the most effective and least costly management method. This can be accomplished through early detection and eradication, careful monitoring, and by limiting invasive plant seed dispersal into burned areas by:
For more detailed information on these topics see the following publications: [1,6,21,45].
It is commonly argued that the most cost-efficient and effective method of managing invasive species is to prevent their establishment and spread by maintaining "healthy" natural communities [32,40] (for example, avoid road building in wildlands ) and by conducting monitoring several times each year . Managing to maintain the integrity of native plant communities and identifying causal factors enhancing ecosystem invasibility are likely to be more effective than an emphasis on controlling the invader .
Weed prevention and control can be incorporated into all types of management plans, including logging and site preparation, management of grazing allotments, recreation management, research projects, road building and maintenance, and fire management . See the "Guide to noxious weed prevention practices"  for specific guidelines on preventing the spread of weed seeds and propagules under various management conditions.
Preventing burningbush invasion: Burningbush's escape from cultivation could be slowed or prevented if fertile burningbush plants were no longer commercially available and/or if native species were substituted in landscaping projects. However, frugivorous birds may disperse fertile burningbush seed into uninvaded areas (see Seed dispersal). Studies to develop sterile burningbush cultivars were in progress in 2008 [8,17]. Lists of alternative native species that provide bright red or pruple fall color are available in these sources: [33,38].
Cultural: No information is available on this topic.
Physical and/or mechanical: Mechanical treatments are generally preferred over other methods for controlling small infestations of invasive species . Burningbush seedlings up to 2 feet (0.6 m) tall can be hand-pulled, especially in moist soils. Larger plants require cutting and are likely to sprout unless the stumps are removed or painted with herbicide [33,38].
Biological: As of 2009, biological agents for burningbush control were not available . A review identifies 13 potential biological control agents from China that may help control burningbush in North America . Biological control of invasive species has a long history, and many factors must be considered before using biological controls. Refer to the Weed Control Methods Handbook  and these sources: [47,52] for background information and important considerations for developing and implementing biological control programs.
Chemical: Glyphosate may be effective on extensive stands, especially when applied in early summer [33,38].Integrated management: As of 2009, published studies on using multiple control methods on burningbush were lacking. According to a fact sheet, glyphosate application to cut stumps can help prevent cut stumps from sprouting .
The following table provides fire regime information that may be relevant to burningbush habitats. Find further fire regime information for the plant communities in which this species may occur by entering the species name in the FEIS home page under "Find Fire Regimes".
|Fire regime information on vegetation communities in which burningbush may occur. This information is taken from the LANDFIRE Rapid Assessment Vegetation Models , which were developed by local experts using available literature, local data, and/or expert opinion. This table summarizes fire regime characteristics for each plant community listed. The PDF file linked from each plant community name describes the model and synthesizes the knowledge available on vegetation composition, structure, and dynamics in that community. Cells are blank where information is not available in the Rapid Assessment Vegetation Model.|
|Northern Great Plains|
|Vegetation Community (Potential Natural Vegetation Group)||Fire severity*||Fire regime characteristics|
|Percent of fires||Mean interval
|Northern Plains Grassland|
|Northern tallgrass prairie||Replacement||90%||6.5||1||25|
|Surface or low||2%||303|
|Surface or low||76%||4|
|Northern Plains Woodland|
|Surface or low||98%||7.5|
|Northern Great Plains wooded draws and ravines||Replacement||38%||45||30||100|
|Surface or low||43%||40||10|
|Vegetation Community (Potential Natural Vegetation Group)||Fire severity*||Fire regime characteristics|
|Percent of fires||Mean interval
|Great Lakes Grassland|
|Mosaic of bluestem prairie and oak-hickory||Replacement||79%||5||1||8|
|Surface or low||20%||2||33|
|Great Lakes Woodland|
|Northern oak savanna||Replacement||4%||110||50||500|
|Surface or low||87%||5||1||20|
|Great Lakes Forested|
|Northern hardwood maple-beech-eastern hemlock||Replacement||60%||>1,000|
|Surface or low||67%||500|
|Maple-basswood mesic hardwood forest (Great Lakes)||Replacement||100%||>1,000||>1,000||>1,000|
|Surface or low||89%||35|
|Northern hardwood-eastern hemlock forest (Great Lakes)||Replacement||99%||>1,000|
|Surface or low||76%||11||2||25|
|Surface or low||81%||85|
|Vegetation Community (Potential Natural Vegetation Group)||Fire severity*||Fire regime characteristics|
|Percent of fires||Mean interval
|Eastern woodland mosaic||Replacement||2%||200||100||300|
|Surface or low||89%||4||1||7|
|Northern hardwoods (Northeast)||Replacement||39%||>1,000|
|Eastern white pine-northern hardwoods||Replacement||72%||475|
|Surface or low||28%||>1,000|
|Northern hardwoods-eastern hemlock||Replacement||50%||>1,000|
|Surface or low||50%||>1,000|
|Appalachian oak forest (dry-mesic)||Replacement||2%||625||500||>1,000|
|Surface or low||92%||15||7||26|
Replacement: Any fire that causes greater than 75% top removal of a vegetation-fuel type, resulting in general replacement of existing vegetation; may or may not cause a lethal effect on the plants.
Mixed: Any fire burning more than 5% of an area that does not qualify as a replacement, surface, or low-severity fire; includes mosaic and other fires that are intermediate in effects.
Surface or low: Any fire that causes less than 25% upper layer replacement and/or removal in a vegetation-fuel class but burns 5% or more of the area [24,30].
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