Nature Table: Spindle

Spindle is a native plant, sometimes a shrub and sometimes a small tree, which is sparsely distributed on lime-rich soils and is a component of hedgerows in some parts of the country. 

It’s quite common in the Burren and in parts of east Galway and occurs less frequently in esker woodlands in the Midlands.

Spindle is also available as a garden plant and deserves to be planted more frequently. Its attraction as an ornamental lies largely with the bright pink, four-chambered fruits which appear after the rather nondescript green flowers but it is also a valuable addition to a wildlife garden as it supports a wide range of insect species and the fruits are eaten by birds, though they’re poisonous to humans and livestock. However, it’s also the winter host to the black-fly aphid which can be a garden pest, particularly of broad beans.

Timber from larger specimens is white and very hard and the tree gets its name from its use to make spindles for spinning wool.


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