Thursday, December 15, 2011

Strawberry Bush

Strawberry Bush. Have you ever heard of strawberries in the fall? Saluda Shoals Park is home to strawberry bushes which bloom in the fall. They can be found along the edge of Rawls Creek while walking the Greenway Trail toward the Saluda River.
The American strawberry bush is a thin little shrub with narrow, opposite leaves, and green stems. In the spring, it blooms with tiny inconspicuous flowers. In the fall, the flowers give way to distinct crimson red fruit that looks like strawberries. The bush grows 4 – 6 ft tall and has a loose sprawling structure with thin, wiry spreading branches, an open, airy form and a cluster of several main upright stems. The twigs are distinctive, four-angled and green. The deciduous leaves are 2 – 3 inches long and have fine toothed edges. The springtime flowers are only about a third of an inch across, with five greenish yellow petals. The fruit is a warty red capsule about 1 inch across that looks a little like a strawberry. When ripe, the capsule splits open to reveal four or five orange-red seeds framed by the persistent scarlet husks. White-tailed deer love this plant and will eat the foliage and small twigs every chance they get.

American strawberry bushes occur in the shady understory of moist forests of eastern North America from New York south to Florida and west to Oklahoma and east Texas.

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