Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Running Strawberry-bush - Euonymus obovatus   Nuttall
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Section 6 » Order Celastrales » Family Celastraceae
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AuthorNuttall
DistributionEven though this is a Northern species, it is found (so far) only in the central and southern mountains; there are no known records north of Yancey County.

This species occurs from NY, ON, MI, and WI on the north only to western NC and northern AR. Oddly, it occurs just to the west of WV and VA, yet it is found in western NC, and rarely in adjacent SC and GA.
AbundanceGenerally uncommon to infrequent, and mainly in the middle elevations. It is typically not seen on most mountain walks within the range.
HabitatThis species favors rich forested slopes, often where rocky. Rich Cove Forests are its most frequent forest type, but it is also found in Northern Hardwood Forests, Boulderfield Forests, and other such fairly moist and cool sites.
See also Habitat Account for General Montane Mesic Hardwood Forests
PhenologyBlooms in May and June; fruits in September and October.
IdentificationThis is a slender shrub, mostly trailing to decumbent, and rooting at the nodes. It grows to only 2-3’ long. Its leaves are deciduous, opposite, and slightly serrate. But, unlike the other two Euonymus species, this one has oblanceolate to obovate leaves (widest toward the tip), to about 2” long. Its flowers and fruits are very similar to those of E. americanus – flat, 5-petaled pale greenish-yellow flowers and warty pink-rose capsules that crack open to expose the red fruit. Because this species can and does root at the nodes, one may find sizable “patches” of this odd shrub spreading out over a number of square feet of the forest floor, almost smothering out any other plants.
Taxonomic CommentsWeakley (2018) mentions that “our” (NC and eastern TN) plants differ in some ways from those farther to the northwest, and are a bit disjunct; he suggests that they may be separate species.

Other Common Name(s)Essentially none
State RankS3
Global RankG5
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