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For Your Garden - December 2009

Fall brings a time of change for the garden. Can your garden still remain a showplace in fall and winter? If you use native plants, the answer is “Yes!” These species are adapted to the Illinois climate and caring for them is easy. Native shrubs can add height to your garden scheme. As perennials, you can enjoy them for many years to come.

wahoo (Euonymus atropurpureus)
Photo © John Muchow

Wahoo grows naturally in Illinois along streams, in floodplain forests and in woods. It can be a small tree or shrub, but in either form this adaptable plant makes a nice addition to the landscaping. The leaves are simple and opposite each other on the stem. Each leaf is about two to five inches long and one to two inches wide with a finely toothed margin. Leaves turn pink to yellow in fall. Wahoo blooms from May through July. The flowers are purple, about one-half inch wide and develop in a cluster of 7-15. Each flower has four petals. The fruit are purple to red-pink and last into winter. They split open to reveal the bright red seeds that are good food for wildlife, particularly songbirds.

Classification and taxonomy are based on Mohlenbrock, Robert H. 2014. Vascular flora of Illinois: A field guide. Fourth edition. Southern Illinois University Press, Carbondale. 536 pp.

Illinois Range

Native Plant Information

For more information about Illinois native plants, visit our Native Habitat Descriptions, Requirements, and Plant Lists page. The following publications are available from the IDNR on our publications page.


Kingdom: Plantae
Phylum: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Celastrales
Family: Celastraceae

Illinois Status: common, native