Also know as: climbing euonymus, gaiety
Origin: Winter creeper was introduced into the United States from Asia in 1907 as an ornamental ground cover.
Description: Winter creeper is an evergreen, woody vine that can form a dense groundcover or shrub up to 3 feet in height or can climb using aerial roots at nodes along its stems. Its leaves are opposite, oval, slightly toothed, rather thick, and about 1 inch long. Above, they are dark green with pale veins, and they are pale green below. The edges tend to turn under slightly. Inconspicuous clusters of 5-petaled, yellow-green flowers are present from May to July on plants which are climbing. Plants growing along the ground rarely flower. Fruits are pink-to-red capsules, borne in autumn, that open to reveal fleshy, orange-to-red seed coats.
Habitat description: This perennial vine does well in the partial shade of its "host" tree. This vine was frequently planted in our landscaping and slowly escapes into adjacent natural areas. Usually found climbing upright on yard trees, this vine will produce an evergreen sheath as it encompasses its host tree. It is often found with the bottom 4 to 5 ft of vines appearing barren of leaves from repeated deer browse. Healthy examples can be found climbing up yard trees just across from the North entrance to the State Park.
Distribution: Climbing euonymus tolerates poor soil, a wide range of pH, and light conditions from full sun to full shade. It does not grow well, however, in wet soil. It invades open forests, edges, and openings.
Problem: Winter creeper can deplete soil nutrients, can form dense mats which impede the growth of native seedlings, or can grow over the tops of trees and shrubs and shade them out. It spreads by seeds dispersed by animals and water and colonizes by rooting at nodes on its stems. It is shade-tolerant and fast-growing.
Control: Hand-pulling of seedlings or small plants may be effective, but care should be taken not to disturb the soil more than necessary. Glyphosate (3%) or triclopyr (3%) may be sprayed onto leaves. This can be done anytime during the growing season, but may be best in the early fall when native plants are dormant, but the target plant is still green and physiologically active. Winter treatment may be possible if green leaves are still present and the high temperature exceeds 50? F. When applying herbicide to a plant with waxy leaves, consider adding 0.5% non-ionic surfactant to the herbicide mix if recommended on the herbicide label.
USE PESTICIDES WISELY: Always read the entire pesticide label carefully, follow all mixing and application instructions and wear all recommended personal protective gear and clothing. Contact your state department of agriculture for any additional pesticide use requirements, restrictions or recommendations.