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Wahoo Euonymus atropurpureus

Other plants called Wahoo:

Previously known as:

  • Euonymus atropurpurea
  • Euonymus caroliniensis
Phonetic Spelling
yoo-ON-ih-mus at-ro-pur-PURR-ee-us
This plant has low severity poison characteristics.
See below
Description

Eastern Wahoo is a large, gangly, deciduous shrub or small tree in the bittersweet family that is native to central and eastern United States. It is relatively rare in North Carolina, but can be found scattered in the Piedmont and mountain areas. Its native habitat is moist, open woods, stream banks, and and thickets. The best specimens are found in deep rich humus soils, limstone soils, and stream bottoms and woods.

Eastern Wahoo prefers dappled sunlight to light shade, moist to mesic conditions, and a fertile loamy soil; however, it tolerates most soil types as long as they are well-drained. It can be grown in full sun to partial shade. It is particularly suited to dry shaded areas and requires shade from the midday sun. It is a moderately fast-growing but short-lived tree in the wild. In cultivation, it is often used as a hedge or screen in or naturalized and woodland settings.

The flowers appear in spring and are not very ornamental. The bright red fruits that mature in fall and the leaves that become yellow or red are the shrub's best feature. The  epithet, atropurpureus, means dark purple in reference to the color of the fruits and fall foliage.

Diseases, Insect Pests, and Other Plant Problems:

As with most of the Euonymus  species, Eastern Wahoo is susceptible to scale. Protection from deer and rabbits may be needed.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#poisonous#native shrub#fall interest#NC native#large shrub#fruits fall#problem for cats#problem for dogs#problem for horses
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#poisonous#native shrub#fall interest#NC native#large shrub#fruits fall#problem for cats#problem for dogs#problem for horses
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Euonymus
    Species:
    atropurpureus
    Family:
    Celastraceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    Bark, leaves and fruits were formerly used for medicinal purposes; however, all parts of the plant are poisonous if ingested.
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Eastern North America, Canada and Eastern United States.
    Distribution:
    Ontario and Nova Scotia south to Florida and west to Montana, Texas, and Nebraska.
    Wildlife Value:
    Birds are attracted to the fruits. Flowers attract small bees and flies. Caterpillars of moths feed on the leaves.
    Edibility:
    Toxic in large amounts.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 12 ft. 0 in. - 25 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 15 ft. 0 in. - 25 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Native Plant
    Shrub
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Erect
    Spreading
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    NC Region:
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    3a, 3b, 4b, 4a, 5b, 5a, 6b, 6a, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Red/Burgundy
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Type:
    Capsule
    Fruit Description:
    The flowers are replaced by 4-lobed seed capsules that become mature during the fall. Each seed capsule splits open into four parts to expose fleshy red fruits) that each contain two seeds. The seed capsules are light pink or pale purple with a smooth surface; they later become more dark-colored. The seeds are light brown with a smooth surface.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Purple/Lavender
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Cyme
    Insignificant
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Long Bloom Season
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Radial
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Small forking cymes of 7 to 20 flowers develop from the axils of current or former leaves. Each flower is about 1/3 of an inch across, consisting of 4 spreading petals, 4 sepals, 4 short stamens with yellow anthers, and a pistil with a short stout style. The petals are reddish purple and oval in shape, while the smaller sepals are greenish purple and oval. The blooming period occurs from late spring to early summer and lasts about a month.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Red/Burgundy
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Opposite
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Serrate
    Hairs Present:
    Yes
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Leaves are opposite, simple, and elliptical, 2 1/2 to 4 inches long and 4 inches across, and finely serrated. Leaf pairs develop along young shoots and smaller branches. The upper surface of each leaf is dark green and hairless, while the lower surface is pale green and finely pubescent.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Dark Brown
    Green
    Red/Burgundy
    Surface/Attachment:
    Bumpy
    Bark Description:
    Central trunk and larger branches are covered with a thin, rough gray bark. Smaller branches are dull green with thin vertical stripes of gray bark. Young shoots are entirely green.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Gray/Silver
    Green
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Form:
    Zig Zags
    Stem Description:
    Young shoots or small branches can be terete (round in cross-section) or 4-angled.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Naturalized Area
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Native Garden
    Rain Garden
    Design Feature:
    Hedge
    Screen/Privacy
    Attracts:
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Black Walnut
    Compaction
    Problems:
    Problem for Cats
    Problem for Dogs
    Problem for Horses
  • Poisonous to Humans:
    Poison Severity:
    Low
    Poison Symptoms:
    When large amounts ingested, may cause vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, weakness, and heart rhythm abnormalities.
    Poison Toxic Principle:
    Alkaloids, Cardenolides
    Causes Contact Dermatitis:
    No
    Poison Part:
    Bark
    Stems