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Strawberry Bush Euonymus americana (Euonymus americanus)


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Strawberry Bush, fruit
credit: Steve Snodgrass/CCSA

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Alternate name: American Strawberry Bush, Brook Euonymus, Hearts-a-bustin

Family: Celastraceae, Staff Tree view all from this family

Description Euonymus americanus is commonly referred to as Strawberry Bush, Bursting Hearts or John Baptiste - Percival. The common names all refer to the plant's seed pods which first appear in mid-summer. It is an evergreen plant, though the number of leaves is greatly diminished during the winter. The plant is notable for its photosynthetic stems and its seed distribution method. Once the seeds have ripened in mid-autumn the red capsules burst open, scattering the orange seeds up to 15 feet.

The leaves are well liked by deer, which often strip the bush bare. E. americanus will spread by underground runners forming small thickets. Stems which come in contact with the ground will readily root. The stems are relatively weak and taller plants lean against other shrubs or trees for support.

The plant flowers in late April/early May.

Habitat Mountains, Swamps (fresh & salt), Watersides (fresh).

Range Plains, Mid-Atlantic, Great Lakes, Florida, Southeast, Texas.

Comments Although it will tolerate full shade, strawberry bush fruits best when grown in light shade. It is susceptible to Euonymus scale.

Exposure Preference Shade to partial sun.

Flower May - June.

Native Distribution Florida to Texas, n. to s. New York & Ohio R. valley.

Site Preference Deciduous woods; low, sandy thickets; swamps.

Soil Preference Moist to dry soils.

Wildlife Value Rabbit and deer browse.