Botanical Name: Euonymus americanus L.
Common Name: Strawberry Bush, Hearts-A-Bursting, Bursting-heart, Fish-wood, Burning-bush, Brook Euonymus, Wahoo, American Strawberry Bush
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 Florida. Ok, now that that is out of the way, on to the description!
Strawberry bush grows in seep slopes, rich woods, hammocks, upland mixed forest, bluffs, floodplains in loam or sandy soils that are acidic. 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-busting.” 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. It doesn’t like being in a very sunny and dry spot. 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.
Not salt tolerant of inundation by salty or brackish water. Low/no tolerance of salty wind or direct salt spray.
This plant in 1-gallon containers is 8-15″ tall.
This plant in 3-gallon containers is 2-3′ tall.
This plant in 7-gallon containers is 3-5′ tall.
Plant Lore: 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. Genus name is an ancient Greek name referring to plants of this genus. Specific epithet means native to America.
Florida Hardiness Zones 8 – 10