Beautiful and scary Fall color 

Published 10:55 pm Thursday, October 10, 2019

It’s the time of year when some of us are putting away our tools for a well-deserved rest; others accelerate their gardening activities now that the extreme heat (maybe) is over, by gearing up for an extensive planting or clean-up season. I know of others who have land but don’t consider themselves gardeners at all, but rather prefer to let nature “take its course” to remain “wild”.  Whichever type of landowner you are, we’d like you to be aware of, and take action against the invasive plants threatening our county. 


As we’re about to witness the explosion of glorious fall color, it’s hard to miss the bright rose-red foliage of the extremely invasive and aptly named Burning Bush (Euonymous alatus). Its corky winged ridges extending from all four quadrants of its stems distinguish it from our native Hearts-a-bustin’ or Strawberry Bush (Euonymous americanus).

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Although commercially available (including within our county), Burning Bush is on the Significant Threat list compiled by the North Carolina Native Plant Society as compiled by Misty Franklin Buchanan with review and input from biologists in the following agencies: NC Natural Heritage Program, NC Botanical Garden, University of North Carolina Herbarium, NC Exotic Pest Plant Council, NC DENR Aquatic Weed Control Program, US Fish & Wildlife Service, The Nature Conservancy, and the NC Zoo. This shrub seeds prolifically (up to 50,000 seeds per mature plant which readily germinate). It is also spread by the help of birds. It out-competes our gorgeous native shrubs and shades out our native wildflowers. 


Please AVOID USING Burning Bush plants due to the invasive nature of this shrub. The Polk County Appearance Commission is also asking our local garden centers and landscape firms to stop carrying and planting this shrub along with all other invasive plants with a “severe” or “significant” threat ranking on the list linked above. The race is on to determine which of our local garden shops and landscapers will be invasive free.

Finally, please consider removing this shrub from your property; now is the perfect time to visually scan your property to identify the distinctive fall color of Burning Bush. The Polk County Appearance Commission and your neighbors Thank You.


Also, we haven’t forgotten about Public Enemy #1: Kidzu. We are currently in the process of developing a strategy to stop the spread and reduce the mass of kudzu in our county. The Town of Tryon is compiling a list of contractors who perform kudzu removal, along with other invasive plants. We will link an expanded list from our website asap. Please consider joining the Kudzu Warriors or Town of Tryon Parks Committee workdays for the satisfaction of removing kudzu on public land.

If you need additional information regarding this or other invasive plants, along with recommendations for native substitutes, the North Carolina Native Plant Society ( has a wealth of info. 

Submitted by Joe Cooper