off-topic: Euonymus, was "Want to trade my non bulb seed pod"

Mark McDonough
Sun, 01 Nov 2009 16:22:46 PST
"Jim McKenney" <> wrote:

> Justin mentioned Euonymus americanus.

>For those of you who don't know it, it is an interesting scrambling shrub
>sometimes common in our local woodlands. Its few leaves are widely scattered
>on the green-stemmed branches. 

>It gets one of its common names, hearts-a-busting, from the very ornamental
>fruits: orange, knobby exterior from which hand bright red seeds. It's a
>striking plant when in fruit, and mostly ignored and unknown in gardens. 

>If a dedicated breeder could produce a compact growing form which fruited
>freely, it would no doubt become very popular. 

It might be worth mentioning the other colorful names for the plant in question, Wahoo Tree, Eastern Wahoo, Spindle Tree, Strawberry Tree, and even burning bush.  These names also get used interchangeably (as many common names do) for a number of Euonymus species, but typically we're either talking about E. americanus or E. atropurpueus, both Eastern USA species.  If one googles:  euonymus wahoo tree, you'll get a lot of hits.  One reason there are so many sites with information on these plants, is because of herbal/medicinal uses for parts of the plant (mostly the bark).  Apparently the wood was also used to make spindles for spinning wool, although this usage might come more from European uses of E. europeaus.

It seems that there are many species of Euonymus that have a similar plant disposition, smallish trees or shrubs with attractive hanging "fruits" that often turn a bright red, pink, or orangish color, then open to reveal brilliant red or orange fleshy seeds inside.  One of the best and most ornamental is E. sachalinensis, or Siberian Spindle tree, one that I do grow and admire very much, after seeing fantastic specimens of the small trees in espalier form at Case Estates (a now defunct off-shoot of Arnold Arboretum in Massachusetts), to better show off the fantastic late summer fruits.

I share a few links of relevancy.  Can't find much in the way of good pics of E. sachalinensis, although I've taken a boat load of pictures of this small tree over the years.  

Final throught on Euonymous, is the concern by many states that the familiar burning bush E. alatus that is so widely cultivated, is a weedy species and spreads (via seed) too rampantly, now being listed as invasive by various organizations.  Not sure about other species, but I do certainly gets lots of self-sown seedlings of E. sachalienensis.  Since the fruits are attractive to birds, there is high likelihood of seed dispersal.………

Euonymus americanus (Strawberry Bush)

European Spindle


Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, near the New Hampshire border, USDA Zone 5

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