Appalachia Wildflowers & Trees Of Appalachia

Strawberry Bush


Strawberry bush noun A wild shrub (Euonymus americanus). Same as hearts a-bustin’ (with love).

1937 Thornborough Great Smoky Mts 25 The seeds of some shrubs are more spectacular then their flowers. This is true of one of the showiest shrubs in the Great Smokies, the euonymous, wahoo or spindlebush. It is especially lovely in October when its seed-pod bursts open, displaying orange-colored seeds in its glowing red heart. It has many descriptive local names—swamp willow, strawberry bush, catspaw, jewel-box, but most descriptive of all is the name given by a mountain man of, “Heart’s-bustin’-with-love.” 1970 Campbell et al. Smoky Mt Wildflowers 102 Common names include strawberry bush, swamp dogwood, spindle bush, arrowwood, wahoo, and a dozen others.

Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English


For most of the growing season the bush is one you hardly notice. But come fall of the year it really puts on a show with its hot pink heart bustin open to reveal the red berries inside. I’ve only heard the plant called hearts a bustin, but all the other common names mentioned in the dictionary entry fit it pretty good too.


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  • Reply
    Judy Mincey
    October 7, 2018 at 1:53 pm

    How very timely! Saw one two weeks ago and marveled at the colors, but had no name for it. Now I have several.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    October 5, 2018 at 12:37 pm

    Come to think of it, we called it ironwood!

  • Reply
    October 5, 2018 at 10:05 am

    So pretty. I especially love your posts when you feature something found wild in nature. It is a true gift to be that observant and reminds me of how my Dad spent his life. Nothing was too insignificant nor well hidden for him not to notice if it was found in nature. I had many missed opportunities to learn, and now I have to get out a book to identify an unfamiliar wildflower or bush. Better still, I am learning from the Blind Pig, and will be looking for this little strawberry bush on my walks.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    October 5, 2018 at 9:11 am

    We actually called it Indian arrowwood when I was growing up. I never heard the names strawberry bush or hearts a burstin until I went to forest tech school. It was a favorite deer browse in southeastern KY. If there were deer around it was sure to have been bit. But I have one here I planted and deer in the yard every night but they never bother it. Strange. I need to look and see if it has seed pods this year.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    October 5, 2018 at 8:52 am

    PS…Tipper, I forgot the most important thang about that Hearts a’ bustin’ …..ONLY Mother nature could get away with wearing orange red berries and heart strawberry pink together….She was doubling down on this plants ability to show off itself…so it would hopefully spread thru the land….Sooo, If you buy a blouse one day the color of the berry and at another time accidently buy the color of the husk in the strawberry hot pink….remember that you can wear them together…with a green or brown accent color…..Mother Nature does….she loves Fall and me thinks she just couldn’t decide so she mixed them up…LOL
    Thanks Tipper,

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    October 5, 2018 at 8:46 am

    Always knew it as “Hearts a’Bustin'” as well….It sure catches your eye when it pops open…Guess, the design was for the little birds to see it and carry the seed around and spread the joy…lol
    Thanks Tipper,
    PS….Do people ponder just what they should be doing, being that Mother Nature has given us and extended late summer? I know if you planted any greens, kale, turnip, mustard or collards…the rain and sun less the snap freezes has probably been wonderful for the greens gardening…Wish I had a big patch….

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    October 5, 2018 at 8:27 am

    I never knowed they had a name if it’s the same thang I’m thinking about. Do they have a dark green stem and are they tough as whet leather? Like trying to break a rope by bending it?

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    October 5, 2018 at 6:54 am

    Tip, I know that bush. It’s not pretty till those lovely little pods open, It’s what you’s call a spindly leggy, very non-noticeable bush, but it has its glory in the fall! I’ve never even known any of it’s names till now.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    October 5, 2018 at 6:23 am

    Such a pretty flower, Hearts Bustin with Love s perfect name.

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