Strawberry Bush

Common Name: Strawberry Bush, Bursting Heart, Heart's-a-Bustin'[1]

Scientific Name: Euonymus americana

Thomas Jefferson called both the Euonymus americana and the Euonymus europaes a "spindle tree," and listed them as ornamental shrubs in his Notes on the State of Virginia.[2] Bernard McMahon also called this plant an "Evergreen Spindle-tree" in The Americn Gardener's Calendar, 1806.[3] Jefferson included Euonymus in his 1804 plans for a garden or pleasure grounds.[4]

Euonymus was one of the first New World plants to be introduced to Britain by Bishop Compton in 1683.[5] The first American citation was made by John Bartram in 1783.[6]

The strawberry bush is a deciduous, North American shrub with evergreen stems and creamy yellow flowers followed by beautiful, glossy red-orange berries that hang by a single thread from the warty seed capsule after bursting open.

Footnotes

  1. This article is based on a Center for Historic Plants Information Sheet.
  2. Notes ed. Peden, 40. European Euonymus, or spindle tree, was so-named for the four-sided branches, which were used to make spindles. When Jefferson listed "Evergreen Spindle tree," he was probably alluding to the E. Americana despite the fact that it is less evergreen than the European species.
  3. McMahon, 293.
  4. See Coolidge Collection of Thomas Jefferson Manuscripts at the Massachusetts Historical Society.
  5. Alice M. Coats, Garden Shrubs and their Histories (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1992), 85.
  6. Denise Wiles Adams, Restoring American Gardens: An Encyclopedia of Heirloom Ornamental Plants, 1640-1940 (Portland, Oregon: Timber Press, Inc., 2004), 115.

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