Hearts-a-Bustin' in autumn

Hearts-a-Bustin' in autumn © William Britten use with permission only

Hearts-a-Bustin’ (Euonymus americanus) is actually a small shrub. In mid-to-late May these Smoky Mountains wildflowers show a charming but inconspicuous little bloom that shows little hint of the color that will come later.  In September, when summer’s green is beginning to fade, the hearts bust open to reveal a stunning red berry.  It’s an early autumn harbinger of the colors that will soon dominate the October landscape.

You can find these wildflowers along the Sugarlands Nature Trail or the Laurel Falls Trail, as well as many other creekside trails. Other common names for the plant include Strawberry Bush, Swamp Dogwood, and Spindle Bush.

Hearts-a-Bustin' in Spring

Hearts-a-Bustin' in Spring © William Britten use with permission only

If you are traveling in the Smokies on vacation, please stop in and visit me to see the complete display of Smoky Mountains Photos at the William Britten Gallery in Gatlinburg, TN. There may be a special Smokies photo memory for you to take home.

And if you are a wildflowers enthusiast, please join our Smoky Mountains Wildflowers Community on Facebook. We exchange photo identifications, bloom locations, and info on these delicate and beautiful plants.

Smoky Mountains wildflowers

Smoky Mountains wildflowers © William Britten use with permission only

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  1. Paula Killebrew

    These are beautiful photographs. Hearts a-bursting are a favorite wildflower for me. The first time I saw the pods…not too many years ago…I was astounded. Then I watched for the flowers. They can be elusive if you don’t look carefully. I live in a farming community in McMinn county, and a lot of land has been cleared over the years, but I have a little group of these growing in a wooded area behind my house. I watch eagerly for them every spring. I hear the dear love them, too.

  2. Bill Lander

    Not just in the mountains. I have several of them growing in the wooded section of my back yard here in Cleveland, Tennessee.
    They are sparse and spindly and the seed pods never give as nice a display as the ones in your photo.

  3. Joyce Hobbs

    These are so gorgeous and unusual. I love all your photos.

  4. Doug Kinney

    As I said in the email, Joe and I first saw these this past Friday while hiking a short trail in Knox County along the Tennessee. They are amszing little critters.

  5. Johnnie Roberts

    I found one of these plants near our mountain road, it was such a site to behold, now I would love to know how to propagate the seeds, Wow nature is sure wonderful.
    I am just over the hill from you in Bryson City. Thanks for you lovely post.

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