Euonymus atropurpureus

Species Native to Missouri
Common Name: eastern wahoo 
Type: Deciduous shrub
Family: Celastraceae
Native Range: Eastern North America
Zone: 3 to 7
Height: 12.00 to 20.00 feet
Spread: 15.00 to 25.00 feet
Bloom Time: June
Bloom Description: Dk. purple
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Rain Garden
Leaf: Good Fall
Attracts: Birds
Fruit: Showy
Tolerate: Black Walnut


Easily grown in average, medium, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. Adaptable shrub which tolerates wide range of soils and full shade. Will not tolerate wet, poorly-drained soil, however.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Euonymus atropurpureus, commonly called Eastern wahoo, is a deciduous, Missouri native shrub or small tree which is most often grown for its attractive red berries and fall color. Occurs in the wild in open woods and thickets, near streams and on wooded slopes throughout the State. Typically appears as an upright, spreading, deciduous shrub with an irregular crown growing to 10-15' (less frequently to 25') tall. Dark green elliptic to ovate leaves (to 5" long) turn dull red to greenish red in fall. Small, purple flowers appear in the leaf axils in late spring but are not particularly showy. Scarlet red fruits (1/2" capsules) appear in autumn. Fruit is attractive to wildlife and is often considered to be the best ornamental feature of the shrub. Although the bark, leaves and fruits of eastern wahoo were formerly used for a variety of medicinal purposes, all parts of the plant are poisonous if ingested. Also sometimes commonly called burning bush.

Genus name is an ancient Greek name referring to plants of this genus.

Specific epithet means dark purple in probable reference to the color of the fruits and fall foliage.


As with most euonymus, eastern wahoo is susceptible to scale.


Interesting native plant for the home landscape. Effective in woodland gardens, native plant gardens, bird gardens or as an informal hedge or screen.