Botanical Name: Euonymus americanus L.
Common Name: Strawberry Bush, Hearts-A-Bursting, Bursting-heart, Fish-wood, Burning-bush, Brook Euonymus, Wahoo
Description: First off: This is not the same plant as the exotic/invasive Euonymus alatus, aka Burning Bush, that is native to China/Japan/Korea. Please do not grows that shrub because it has escaped cultivation and is now on many states’ invasive list. The shrub we’re talking about here is Euonymus americanus, a shrub that is native right here in East Texas over to Florida. Ok, now that that is out of the way, on to the description!
Strawberry bush grows in rich bottomlands, moist woods and along streams in East Texas eastward to Florida and north to New York. It is a loose, suckering, deciduous shrub with dark green leaves, a sparse growth habit, crooked green stems and greenish-purple flowers from May to June. Its ridged twigs become purplish when exposed to the sun. Its spectacular attribute is the fruits that appear in the fall: red warty capsules that split open to reveal the scarlet seeds inside, giving it its common name of “hearts-a-bursting.” The contrast of the fruit against the dark green foliage makes it a particularly garden-worthy ornamental. The leaves turn reddish/orange in the fall before dropping. Strawberry bush is an understory shrub that can take part sun to part shade areas and poorly-drained soil, but it can also survive on less moisture than in its native habitat. Many species of birds eat the fruit, along with wild turkeys and small mammals. Deer do adore to eat the stems and leaves of this plant. Grows 6′ tall x 4′ wide. Does great in rain gardens, shrub borders, woodland gardens, naturalizing, and shady perennial borders. Grows moderately fast. Attracts bees and beetles for pollination. Y’all, this is a really cool shrub.
Leaves and twigs are considered to be deadly poisonous to domestic sheep and cattle.
This plant in 1-gallon containers is 1-2′ tall and wide.
Fun Fact: Humans should take the red color of the seeds as a warning; they are known to be a strong laxative and cause severe diarrhea. In fact, this genus of plants in general is considered poisonous to humans.
Hardiness Zones 6 – 10