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Burning Bush Vs Firebush: Instant Similarity & Difference Guide!

Burning Bush vs Firebush dispute is occurring in the recent gardening community, notably due to their toxicity and invasiveness.

Although both sport similar appearances, some spot-on differences shall help distinguish between these plants.

Generally, the Burning Bush vs Firebush debate arises as the plants share key similarities in their growth habit, sunlight-shade preference, stature, toxic and invasive qualities, and fruit appearance. However, the plants contrast in flowers, leaves, flowering, and fruiting seasons.

Hence, let’s delve to learn more about the similarities and differences between the plants from the article! 

Are Burning Bush & Firebush The Same? [Similarities]

It’s easy to distinguish between the Burning Bush and Firebush plants based on their appearance alone.

Among The Parallels…

Burning Bushes and Fire Bushes are both deciduous shrubs growing around 3.2-15 feet tall and prefer full sunlight to part shady areas to thrive.

Also, both plants have toxic qualities and bear fruits with a berry-like impression.

Furthermore, both plants have the potential to become invasive outside of their respective native regions.

Besides, Burning Bush and Firebush don’t share standard features in aspects.

Burning Bush Vs Firebush [Differences]

There are many differences between the Burning Bush and Fire Bush plants. Let’s see some of them in detail.

1. Origin, Native Range & Zone Hardiness

Burning Bush plants (Euonymus alatus) belong to the plant family Celastraceae, but Firebush plants (Hamelia patens) falls in the family Rubiaceae.

Also, Burning Bush is native to the Eastern part of the globe. But the Firebush originates from Central to Southern America.

Similarly, Burning Bush grows in temperate zones, while Firebush prefers a lush, sultry tropical to subtropical habitat.

Further, Burning Bush is hardy from USDA zones 4-8, while Firebush prefers USDA zones 9-10.

2. Flowering & Fruiting Seasons

Burning Bush blooms from late spring to early summer (May to June). After a flowering spell, Burning Bush relishes a fruiting period from mid to late summer (July to August).

But, Firebush blooms from late spring to early fall (May to September) in Northern Hemisphere (cooler climates) with a fruiting season from late summer to mid-fall (August to October).

Whereas, in hotter climates (Southern Hemisphere), it appreciates flowering from late fall to early spring (November to March) and a fruiting season from late winter to mid-spring (February to April).

Poison Hemlock and Cow Parsnip also share numerous identical features, but you can distinguish between them as they differ in flowering durations.
Image illustrates the difference between the leaves of Burning Bush and Firebush plants
One key foliar difference between Burning Bush and Firebush is their leaf arrangement.

3. Leaf Characteristics

The leaves of Burning Bush are compound, with alternate leaflets that are acute to acuminate apex, ovate-obovate to elliptical shape, and serrated margins.

Further, leaves are smooth with less prominent venation, matte dark green during spring and summer but turn bright fiery reddish to purple during fall.

Image illustrates the stem differences between Burning Bush and Firebush plants
Corky ridges in the stem of Burning Bush plants is its characteristic traits.

But the leaves of Firebush organize in whorls of 2-5, bearing acute to slightly acuminate apex, elliptical to oblanceolate shape, and smooth margins. 

Also, the leaves of Firebush are slightly fuzzy and dark green with more apparent veins.

Do You Know?

Burning Bush is also called “Winged Spindle Tree” due to the presence of winged appendages or wing-like corky ridges in its stem.

While thin, white, and fuzzy hairs cover the reddish stems in Firebush plants, a distinguishable trait.

4. Flower & Fruits Characteristics

The flowers of Burning Bush are light to lime greenish-yellow with 4 round petals and a disc-shaped central ovary surrounded by 4 yellow stamens or male parts.

Additionally, the flower peduncles arise from the leaf axils, and the inflorescence is called Axillary Cymose.

The fruits are bright to reddish brown berry-like capsules and appear in gaping clusters. These outer colorful arils or the fruit peel flesh out to reveal the orange-yellow seeds (usually 1-2 per fruit).

Likewise, the flowers of Firebush are narrowly tubular, woolly, red to orange-red or yellow, and are showy that appear in clusters. 


Unlike the poisonous Burning Bush, Firebush plants have little to no toxicity, and their berries are even used for culinary and medicinal pursuits.

However, orally ingesting large amounts of the plant parts of Burning Bush can harm your pets and children due to the presence of flavonoids and steroids.

Image illustrates the difference between the fruits and flowers of Burning Bush and Firebush
The fruiting and flowering seasons for Burning Bush and Firebush are different.

Further, the flowers arise at the tip of the flowering stem, and the inflorescence is called Terminal Cymose.

The berries of Firebush are oval to ovoid with reddish to dark reddish-black aril or fruit peel that fruit in dense clumps. 

From Editorial Team


To contain the invasive nature of Burning Bush and Firebush, you must cut down their foliage before they beget flowers and fruits.

Also, use them as hedge plants and manage their growth with fall or spring pruning.