Its berries are similar to the headdress once worn by some priests and that is why the Fusaggine it is also commonly called Priest's hat, a nice name for a nice looking plant. We can meet it in gardens, public or private, it is not difficult to cultivate but it is necessary to have the minimum notions that we will now provide you with.
Its scientific name is "Euonymus europaeus", its nickname is, as already said, “Berretta or priest's hat” and belongs to the Celastraceae family. This plant is very common in our continent and mainly inhabits areas covered with deciduous forests of which the'Europe it is quite rich. In percentage, of course, being a very urbanized continent.
Its bearing is shrubby, it is one deciduous plant and it has an important root system that anchors itself in the ground, going down deep and thus allowing the aerial part of the plant to develop freely reaching heights ranging from three to six meters in height.
The Fusaggine appears as a large bush, a tangle of rather long and straight stems. The adult ones are covered by a brick bark with interesting greenish veins while those that are still in the early stages of their development still carry a bark "when young", recognizable due to its green color.
The leaves are dark green, not particularly bright, and have an oval or elliptical shape, with serrated edges and a final tip. In the autumn a heat yellow-orange color takes the place of greenery, before the leaves fall in the winter season. When the following spring arrives, in addition to the leaves, flowers also sprout. Let's not expect any large inflorescences: these are small flowers with a corolla composed of four white - yellowish petals, gathered in axillary racemes, each formed by a maximum of nine flowers.
The flowers are followed by fruits, berries, those that give to the Fusaggine his cute nickname. These are capsules that start with green and then, as they mature, become a particularly intense red color. They are small and formed by four clearly visible wings, they can hang alone or in small groups, hanging from the branches by means of a long elastic peduncle that is very reminiscent of that of cherries.
If the flowers appear in the spring period, generally from April to June, the fruits ripen in the summer months until autumn, around November, when they open, once ripe, and release the seeds. In truth what is released is a deep orange aril, di pulpy texture, spherical, which contains seeds that are extremely small and very hard.
Often the berries of the fusaggine resist on the branches with theirs brave red color even in December, a touch of color in the gardens that are often a bit sad in this precise period in which most of the plants are in vegetative rest. Beautiful and against the tide, these fruits, but not to be plucked because they are poisonous to humans, although many birds guarantee survival during the cold season when there is not much else to eat.
The best soil for growing this plant is rich in organic matter, possibly compact and also with a neutral or alkaline pH. It also adapts quite well to other types of soil and resists both high and low temperatures. To create problems for the Priest's hat, ironically, is the wind. If possible, place it in places where it can get a lot of sun or at least where there is semi-shade.
Watering must not be too abundant: in spring it is important to ensure that the soil does not remain too dry, in autumn and winter if it rains a lot it is not even necessary to water, always better not to risk creating any water stagnation. This plant can be pruned, better at the beginning of spring and without depriving it of its beautiful branches, very often it is done to put it in order.
Most of the specimens of this plant that we happen to see have been planted and cultivated for ornamental purposes. With its leaves that turn orange and with its own bright red berries in the middle of the cold season, this plant can add a touch of color to even the saddest gardens.
Wood from Fusaggine can also be used, appreciated because it is particularly ductile and therefore suitable for inlay work or to make "spindles" for wool. Here is also its name: "Fusaggine". Another possible use of this plant is in the artistic field because the branches, the young ones, if they are charred can act as charcoal.
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