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Euonymus atropurpureus

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Plant types and subtypes: Trees & Shrubs, Shrubs, Shrub-like Trees, Deciduous

Light Requirements: sun, part-sun, part-shade, shade

Water Use: medium

Soil Moisture: moist

Soil Description: neutral, rich, average, loam, clay, sand, gravel/rock

Height: 10'-25'

Bloom Time: April, May, June

Bloom Color: purple

Leaf Color: green

Hardiness Zone: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

Additional Tags: attracts birds, berries, fall interest, medicinal, naturalizing, poisonous, pond margin plant, shade garden plant, showy fruit, stream margin plant, woodland plant

Euonymus atropurpureus (burningbush)
  • Euonymus atropurpureus (burningbush)
  • Euonymus atropurpureus (burningbush)
  • Euonymus atropurpureus (burningbush)
  • Euonymus atropurpureus (burningbush)

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Description

Euonymus atropurpureus

Also known as:

burningbush

,

eastern wahoo

Scientific Synonyms:

Euonymus atropurpurea

Description

Euonymus atropurpureus is a large deciduous shrub, with a typical height between 10' to 15' at maturity. It will occasionally grow to 25' and could be considered a small tree. It is multi-stemmed with an open form and irregular crown. The leaves are elliptical, finely serrated, and up to 5" long. They gradually turn attractive shades of red to purple in fall, and are often multi-colored during the process. This species is best known for its abundant, showy fruit. These consist of smooth, four lobed, red seed capsules that can grow to 3/4" across. Each lobe contains a single bright red seed, that is revealed in fall when the capsules burst open. The fruit will persist long after the leaves have dropped, well into winter, giving the shrub the fiery appearance to which it owes the common name "burningbush". The flowers are deep purple, emerge along the leaf axils, and are rather unremarkable.

Cultivation

Euonymus atropurpureus is adaptable and easy to grow in a range of soils and light conditions. It will tolerate full shade but might become leggy. Rich, moist, well-drained soil is best. It is susceptible to scale, a condition exacerbates if placed in a wet or poorly-drained environment. It will produce suckers, which can be removed if a tree form is desired. Shrubs can be used effectively in open woodland gardens, or planted in groups to form tall, informal hedges and screens. Bloom times will range between April and June. zones 4-8

Propagation

Propagate by semi-hardwood cuttings taken when the plant is dormant in fall. Suckers can be easily removed and transplanted. Can be propagated from seed, but viability is low. Stored seeds will require cold stratification to break dormancy.

Additional Notes

A pultice made from the bark was used by native Americans and early pioneers as a purgative. all parts of the plant should be considered poisonous when ingested in large quantities. This includes the seeds, though wildlife is unaffected by their toxins. Euonymus atropurpureus is not to be confused with other species commercially sold as "strawberry bush" or "burning bush", and that are highly invasive introductions from Asia.

Native Range & Classification

Recorded County Distribution: USDA data

Native Range:
AL, AR, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, MT, NC, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NY, OH, OK, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, VA, WI, WV

USDA Endangered Status:

  • Endangered: FL

Classification

Kingdom Plantae Plants
Subkingdom Tracheobionta Vascular plants
Superdivision Spermatophyta Seed plants
Division Magnoliophyta Flowering plants
Class Magnoliopsida Dicotyledons
Subclass Rosidae
Order Celastrales
Family Celastraceae Bittersweet family
Genus Euonymus spindletree
Species Euonymus atropurpureus burningbush