Native Plants for the SouthEast
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October 2006: Featured Plant
Euonymous americanus: Strawberry Euonymous

Euonymous americanus: Strawberry Euonymous
Euonymous americanus: Strawberry Euonymous

This native Euonymus is a sparse, green-stemmed shrub that grows in the understory and is a good plant for pine barrens and rich hardwood forests. The flower in early summer is insignificant - what you're waiting for are the spectacular fruits. The plant is called Heart's-a-bustin' because of the large pink fruits and the bright red seeds that soon peak out. The fruit and seed remain attached for about a month, providing points of color in an increasingly drab landscape. Plant it right next to a tree. I have no good explanation why, but that is where they almost always are found.

Unfortunately, this plant is heavily browsed by our large population of deer, and perhaps that selects against plants out in the open. Upon excluding those dear critters, it is really amazing to discover the number of Euonymus that are around waiting for the opportunity to show their stuff. One more reason to control those beasts, but deer hunting is a significant part of our local tradition and, it is said, our economy. So the deer population is allowed to stay above the normal carrying capacity of the land, if you define that as the limit beyond which the abundance and diversity of the plants are greatly affected. Consider Heart's-a-bustin' as just one of many, though perhaps more obvious, indicator species for evaluating the true impact of deer on the ecology.

Images by Glenn Galau ©