Euonymus americanus, commonly known as strawberry bush or hearts abustin', is a multi-stemmed, suckering, deciduous shrub that typically grows to 4-6’ tall. It is native to wooded slopes, moist understory forest areas, low sandy woods, ravines and streambanks from New York south to Florida and west through Pennsylvania to Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma and eastern Texas.
It is somewhat sprawling when young, but becomes more erect as it matures. It features green stems, medium green leaves with fine marginal teeth, inconspicuous 5-petaled greenish-yellow flowers from the leaf axils in May-June and warty crimson red fall fruits purportedly resembling strawberries hence the common name of strawberry bush. Thin spreading branches are clad with oblong to elliptic leaves (to 3” long) with crenulate margins, narrow to rounded bases and sharply pointed tips. Each leaf has 5-7 pairs of ascending veins which disappear prior to reaching the margins. Leaves turn dark orange-red in fall. Spring flowers are relatively inconspicuous and bloom from the leaf axils on pedicils to 1” long. Each flower (1/3” across) has 5 pale green to greenish yellow petals with purple stamens. Most flowers in the genus have 4 petals, but this species has 5. Although the flowers are not showy, they are followed in fall by extremely showy, warty, crimson red fall fruits (to 3/4” diameter). Each fruit is a 5-lobed capsule which splits open when ripe (hence the sometimes used common name of bursting heart).
There are no serious insect or disease problems. Watch for euonymus scale. Deer do enjoy to the foliage of this plant.
Applicable to foundations and perhaps a hedge. Specimen/accent, Group/massing. Native woodland plantings and Woodland margins.
If protected, we have seen this plant grow to 7' tall.
Text Adapted from: Missouri Botanic Garden