Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Eastern Wahoo

As I drove down a country road there it was, a plant I’d been seeking out for five years, a plant I’ve only seen twice before in our area. The leaves have fallen now but the bright pink and red fruit stood out in the drab landscape on a cloudy day. The plant was a shrub, by far the largest of the three I’ve been fortunate enough to find. It was an eastern wahoo.

Many years ago I saw a single stem of the plant bearing fruit on one of the nearby State Game Lands. But the spot where it grew was impacted by a tornado in 1985 and the shrub could never be found again, perhaps because white-tailed deer are known to browse the stems.

More recently there was a small cluster of fruit-bearing stems in the roadside hedgerow of an agricultural area. But, those plants also disappeared when the hedgerow was removed.

This time it was a number of large plants growing near the road in an area of abandoned farms gradually reverting to forest. There were 25-30 stems along the top of the roadbank; the tallest almost ten feet in height.

What caught my eye was the abundance of fruit, those colorful, oddly shaped open capsules from which dangled one or more bright reddish-orange berry-like fruits –

Eastern wahoo is a plant of the Midwestern states with, apparently, a very limited range in Pennsylvania, primarily in the southern and western counties. But, here it was adding to the list of species I’ve photographed in northcentral Pennsylvania; here it was, adding a bit of color to the late fall landscape –

Eastern wahoo has a number of common names; the most colorful being “Hearts Bursting with Love” – how appropriate for a plant that many would love to have growing in their gardens.


The Furry Gnome said...

Nice find. One that I've never seen.

Marcia said...

What a strange one. I've never heard of it.

Out To Pasture said...

Wow -- what an outstanding flora! Especially this time of year, it's colours really stand out.

Robert Folzenlogen said...

Grew up in Ohio and never saw nor heard of this species. Thanks for the introduction!