Garish combination of pink fruit with orange seeds. Spindle, Euonymus europaeus (Celastraceae). CC Pixabay

It’s easy to overlook the flowers of Spindle. The fruit stand out for the garish combination of bright pink with orange seeds forcing their way out. They grab your attention at this time of year in otherwise colourless, deciduous hedgerows.

Evocative French Name

The berries have earned Spindle a host of common names. The French name Bonnet-de-prêtre points out a comparison with four-cornered (sometimes three-cornered) headwear worn by Catholic clergy. The colours vary according to rank. Priests, deacons and seminarians wear black. A bishop’s biretta is amaranth, or a reddish-rose colour. A cardinal’s biretta is scarlet. Therefore, the closest match to Spindle fruit seems to be the bishop’s biretta rather than the more commonly cited cardinal’s biretta.

Enticing, yet Poisonous

The way the four lobes split open gives rise to the Surrey regional name of Hot Cross Buns – an Easter rather than Advent allusion. The Somerset common name is Popcorns. It evokes the way the fleshy orange arils covering the seeds pop out. Do not pop them in your mouth however enticing they look. They are poisonous.

References and Further Reading

  • Grigson, Geoffrey (1996): The Englishman’s Flora. Helicon.
  • Milner, Edward (2011): Trees of Britain and Ireland. Natural History Museum.

Copyright Note

Karen does not seek or receive any commercial interest or advantage from this blog. She is not promoting any business venture. She simply loves to share fascinating facts about plants. These pages illustrate her love of plants, botany, biodiversity, gardens and creative expression. There is always so much to learn about plant diversity. This blog is designed as a showcase for photography, commentary on plants and wildlife, gardens and other places visited, horticulture and related topics. Viewpoints are her own, not those of her employer.

© Karen Andrews 2018 onwards. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Karen Andrews and BotanyKaren.net with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. 

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