Eastern Wahoo (Euonymus atropurpureus)
A native member of the bittersweet family. Grows as a shrub or (rarely) a small tree.
Also known under the common name "Burning Bush" (why it's so important to use proper Latin names).
Can grow up to 25 ft but is more commonly found around 10-15ft tall.
Large ovate leaves. Flowers form in late spring/early summer and resemble those of the "Winged Burning Bush (Euonymus alatus) -invasive" but are dark purple growing in forking cymes of 7-20 flowers, developing from the axils of current or former leaves. 4 spreading petals, 4 sepals, 4 short stamens with yellow anthers, and a pistil with a short stout style (I can relate "short stout style" hah).
In fall the leaves turn red, the fruits form in showy red/pink pods (sturdy almost plastic feeling) which split open to reveal scarlet seeds.
The name Wahoo is a Dakota Native American term for the plant which literally means arrow-wood. Native Americans also used the powdered bark as a purgative.
All parts of this tree/bush are inedible.
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Since 2015 we have been exploring and sharing all the amazing things we’ve found in nature.
Emily is an Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist who is most often found out in the woods.