Cardinal in the wahoo tree

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Yes, you read that right. Wahoo (Euonymus atropurpureus) is a small tree that is native to most of the Midwest, including Kentucky. Ours is now at peak color, and this cardinal apparently thought it was time to sample the seeds.

Cardinal in wahoo tree

Our 13-year-old tree is rather non-descript until this time of year. Then its leaves turn yellowish and the seedpods become a bright pink.

Wahoo seed pods and leaves

It won’t be long until the leaves drop and the rose-colored seedpods open, making the bright red berries visible and more accessible to the birds.

Wahoo seed pods

I find this to be another of nature’s amazing displays. It’s a rare treat to spot these showy seedpods when we’re out hiking in the woods, and I’m delighted to have them in our backyard.

19 thoughts on “Cardinal in the wahoo tree”

  1. Betty, absolutely beautiful. I was unfamiliar with that tree. Thanks for sharing. I always learn from your posts. Thanks. Sara

    1. Sara, I don’t think you’re alone in not knowing about the wahoo. I’d like to see more folks planting it.

  2. Nice! The Wahoo might have to be on my “wish list”. Seed pods remind me of Hearts a Bursting, which I do have in my yard. Think the Wahoo would do well in Virginia Beach?

    Thanks, as always for sharing your photo.

    Christine Howells

    1. Christine, according to Wikipedia, its range extends from southern Ontario south to northern Florida and Texas. And you are near the same latitude as we are, so I think it would be worth a try. It’s also in the same family as hearts-a-bustin (Euonymus)

  3. WOW for the Wahoo. It’s absolutely beautiful and leaves me somewhat “jealous” for not having such gift up where we live!!!

    1. Marsha, glad you are tempted. If all else fails, Shooting Star Nursery in Kentucky and Missouri Wildflowers Nursery both carry wahoo trees. I’ve used both of these sources and they both ship plants.

  4. Betty, been thinking about you, hope all is well, need to do lunch sometime..
    would you let me know when your frost flowers bloom, I kinda know where some are near here,, will go looking…can remember those when I was a child…

    1. Linda, I’ll be watching for frost flowers anytime now that the temperature dips to the mid 20s (and as long as the ground isn’t frozen). Hope you find some. If not, I’ll be glad to share whatever appears in the backyard.

  5. Beautiful photos – those seed pods look like they could be Valentine candies! I have never seen this grown before but this spring I bought a running strawberry bush (Euonymus obovatus) which is a ground cover related to your Wahoo – it’s supposedly a ground cover native to western NY state. It’s still in its container while I figure out a good place for it on our farm but I look forward to seeing those seedpods.

    1. Ellen, I like your idea of the wahoo seedpods as Valentine candies. I hope your running strawberry bush does well. I’d like to see one growing.

    1. Thanks, David. I’m still not sure how much color we will have here in Kentucky. So far, rather limited,however I’m still hoping.

  6. What a cute tree! Once again you’ve taught me something new 🙂
    I did an internet search and apparently it is also a host plant for several interesting moth caterpillars. Thank you for posting such beautiful photos!

  7. What a fantastic fusion of form and color!!! This tree is new to me also. It is absolutely gorgeous and reminds me of the “Bleeding Heart” plant. The Cardinal is also a treat as we don’t have them in this part of the country. Thanks for sharing Betty!

    1. Thanks, Ruth, for the reminder of how lucky we are to have beautiful cardinals in our yards. It’s easy for us to take them for granted.

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