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University of Minnesota Extension

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Burning bush

Quick facts

Burning bush is a popular exotic landscape plant that can become invasive. 

  • Burning bush is a shrub that is tolerant of sun to shade.
  • It is a prolific seeder, replacing native vegetation.
  • Burning bush is not on any Minnesota control list but may be added in the future. 

How to identify burning bush

  • Deciduous shrub up to 20 feet tall.
  • Brilliant red fall foliage.


  • Distinctive wide, corky ridges form along the length of the stem.
  • Sometimes called “winged wahoo” because of these ridges.


  • Opposite


  • Opposite, simple, elliptical, dark green in the summer and bright red in the fall.
  • 2 to 3 inches long, smooth to fine-toothed margins, tapering at tips.


  • Inconspicuous, greenish yellow, with four petals.
  • Blooms May to June.

Fruit and seeds

  • Smooth, orange-red fleshy seeds appear from reddish capsules.
  • Up to four seeds per fruit.
Burning bush stems
Burning bush leaves


Angela Gupta, Extension educator; Amy Rager, Extension educator; Megan M. Weber, Extension educator

Reviewed in 2019

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