Euonymus atropurpureus

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Euonymus atropurpureus
Euonymus atropurpureus fruit.jpg
Conservation status

Secure (NatureServe)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Celastrales
Family: Celastraceae
Genus: Euonymus
Species: E. atropurpureus
Binomial name
Euonymus atropurpureus

Euonymus atropurpureus (eastern wahoo, burning bush, bitter-ash) is a species of Euonymus native primarily to the Midwestern United States, but its range extends from southern Ontario south to northern Florida and Texas.[1][2][3]

It is a deciduous shrub growing to 8 m tall, with stems up to 10 cm diameter. The bark is gray, smooth, and lightly fissured. The twigs are dark purplish-brown, slender, sometimes four-angled or slightly winged. The leaves are opposite, elliptical, 8.5–11.3 cm long and 3.2–5.5 cm broad, abruptly long pointed at the tip, and with a finely serrated margin; they are green above, paler and often with fine hairs beneath, and turn bright red in the fall. The flowers are bisexual, 10–12 mm diameter, with four greenish sepals, four brown-purple petals and four stamens; they are produced in small axillary cymes. The fruit is a smooth reddish to pink four-lobed (sometimes one or more of the lobes abort) capsule, up to 17 mm diameter, each lobe containing a single seed, orange with a fleshy red aril. Because of the shape and color of the fruit, it has been called Hearts Bursting with Love.[4] The fruit is poisonous to humans, but is eaten by several species of birds, which disperse the seeds in their droppings. It grows in low meadows, open slopes, open woodland, stream banks and prairies, in moist soils, especially thickets, valleys, and forest edges.[3]

It is used medicinally in both the United States and southeastern Canada. The powdered bark was used by American Indians and pioneers as a purgative.[5]

Natural range


  1. ^ USGS Range Maps: Euonymus atropurpureus Range Map (pdf file)
  2. ^ Germplasm Resources Information Network: Euonymus atropurpureus
  3. ^ a b U.S. Forest Service: Euonymus atropurpureus (pdf file)
  4. ^ Lewis S. Nelson, Richard D. Shih, Michael J. Balick (2009). Handbook of poisonous and injurious plants, New York Botanical Garden, p. 159.
  5. ^ Plants for a Future: Euonymus atropurpureus