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spindle tree:see staff treestaff tree,
common name for some temperate members of the Celastraceae, a family of trees and shrubs (many of them climbing forms), widely distributed except in polar regions.
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(Euonymus), a genus of deciduous and evergreen shrubs or low trees of the Celastraceae family. The usually opposite leaves are simple and have petioles. The flowers are bisexual, tetrapartite or pentapartite, and arranged in complex or simple cymes; occasionally they are single. The fruit is a leathery four- or five-clustered boll. The seeds are covered by a brightly colored seed coat (aril). There are more than 200 species of spindle tree, almost half of which are found in southwestern China. Almost all are poisonous. Many types have long been cultivated as decorative plants. There are about 20 varieties in the forests of the USSR.
The spindle trees with the greatest practical significance, as gutta-percha-bearing plants, are the warty spindle tree and the European spindle tree, which grow in the European part of the USSR (including the Crimea) and in the Caucasus. The bark of the stalk and particularly of the roots contains gutta-percha. The warty spindle tree (E. verrucosus) is a shrub up to 3.5 m high and more rarely, a low tree up to 6 m high. The young shoots are green and covered with black-brown warts. The flowers grow on long stalks. The spindle tree blossoms in May or June. The boll is tetralaciniate and rosy red when ripe. The seeds are black or gray, half-covered by a bright red or rosy orange seed coat. The fruit ripens in August or September.
The European spindle tree (E. europaeus) is a shrub or small tree up to 7 m high. Corky tumors on the branches are characteristic of the tree and give it a four-sided form. The flowers have green petals on short stalks. The tree blossoms in May or June, and the fruit ripens in September or October. The bolls are rose colored; the seeds are white, black, or bright red, and are completely covered by the seed coat. They are drought resistant and need more warmth than the warty spindle tree.
REFERENCEDerev’ia i kustarniki SSSR, vol. 4. Moscow-Leningrad, 1958.
A. P. SHIMANIUK