Hearts a bustin’ all over

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 23, 2018

You may have noticed a spindly plant with unusual red berried fruit when walking in the woods or thicket.
Strawberry bush (Euonymus americanus) or hearts-a-bustin’ has now opened its unusual pods, displaying brilliant raspberry-red berries, dangling on threaded twigs. The strawberry bush itself is rather insignificant until this time of year when the buds are alive with bright red berries. The plant is deciduous with yellow fall foliage and green stems in winter.
The strawberry bush is native to the southeast, and ranges westward to Texas. It is a member of the Euonymus family of shrubs commonly used in landscapes throughout the county. There are currently more than 175 different cultivars of euonymus grown for the landscape industry.
You may very well notice its cousin, winged euonymus, or burning bush (Euonymus alatus) planted along the byways of I-85 in Salisbury and Rowan County. The leaves of the winged euonymus turn a blaze of brilliant red before falling after a few weeks.
The native strawberry bush thrives in light shade with medium soil moisture. Its showy berries are toxic to animals, including humans, but does not seem to affect song birds and avian species which disseminate its seeds.
Go to https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/all/euonymus-americanus/ for more detailed information on this native shrub.