Spindle, European spindle, common spindle (Eng), bonetero, evónimo, husera (Spa), matapoll, evònim, barretets de capellà (Cat), basaerramua (Baq), fuseira (Glg), bonete-de-preste (Por).
DID YOU KNOW...? The fruits of this tree resemble birettas, the four sectioned round-peaked caps worn by Catholic priests in the past, and its name in Spanish, 'bonetero', means 'bearer of birettas'.
The spindle is a shrub or small tree that can be up to 6 m tall. The young twigs are greenish but become grey when mature. Cutting them reveals that they are not completely cylindrical, but have an angular cross-section with four sides (quadrangular). The leaves are deciduous, simple, opposite, ellipsoidal or oval-lanceolate in shape, 6-11 cm long and 1-4 cm wide. The margin is slightly serrated or toothed, but this is not easy to see with the naked eye and it may seem entire. The flowers are greenish and rather inconspicuous, but the fruits are spectacular. These are pink and shaped like birettas. Inside are seeds that have a bright orange cover which can be seen because the fruit opens up when ripe.
The spindle never forms forests, but is found with deciduous species, often making up part of the natural shrub borders, or as a component of hedgerows or bocages. It tends to be associated with watercourses, valleys and humid mountain environments. It needs well developed soils and grows best in bright spots on limestones, although it can be found in locations with partial shade. It ranges from sea level up to 1500 m.
This plant is native to Europe and southeastern Asia. On the Iberian Peninsula, it is more abundant in the northern half, associated with mountainous areas.