A deciduous shrub up to 6 or 8 ft high, of upright or straggling habit, not downy in any part; twigs four-angled. Leaves of firm texture, glossy, narrowly oval to lanceolate, long-pointed, wedge-shaped at the base, shallowly toothed; 1 to 4 in. long, 1⁄3 to 11⁄4 in. wide; stalks 1⁄12 in. long. Flowers 1⁄3 in. diameter, greenish purple, with five rounded, distinctly clawed petals; produced about midsummer singly or in threes on a slender stalk 1⁄2 to 3⁄4 in. long. Fruits 1⁄2 to 3⁄4 in. diameter, red, three- to five-lobed, covered outside with prickly warts; aril scarlet.
Native of the eastern United States; cultivated in 1683, according to Aiton, but rarely seen. In my experience it rarely bears fruit in this country. It is distinguished among euonymuses by its spiny-warted fruits, and by having the parts of its flower in fives. The only other cultivated species uniting these two characters is E. obovatus, a prostrate plant with thin, dull green, obovate, short- pointed leaves.
var. angustifolius (Pursh) Wood – Leaves narrow-lanceolate, one-fourth to one-fifth as wide as long.