Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Purple Pizazz The American Beautyberry

Up until a couple years ago I completely neglected the American Beautyberry. I am an avid wildlife conservationist especially for our Bobwhite Quail. When thinking of native plants with berries my attention has always been turned to Hollies. But when you look at the perfect shrub for attracting birds of all kinds that is also beautiful and very hardy(winter hardy to at least zone 7 maybe farther north), very dought tolerant once established you should look no farther than Callicarpa Americana. It is a native deciduous shrub which has tiny lavender blooms in the summer with usual loads of pinkish-lavender-purple berries in autumn that last for beauty and food for wildlife through mid winter. It can reach heights of 8to 10 feet but generally in our area 6to 7 seems to be tops behaving much like forsythia but on a slightly smaller scale. Other imortant attributes of this plant are that researchers at the University of Mississippi have proven the old wives tales that chemicals in the beautyberries leaves when crushed and rubbed on the skin work as a mosquito repellent. The berries can also be used to make a tasty jam. I can think of no other native shrub to the south that has so much to offer, good fall leaf and berry color, beneficial to wildlife and man alike. To those who don't like purple there is a white berried form. Plant them in early spring so they will get a good foot hold and put on a show this fall.


  1. I've never seen a beautyberry except in blogs and I most definitely havent seen a purple one before. How eye-catching!

  2. Those are loaded with berries, I have only seen them more loaded in VA at the Eastern Shore NWR. I'm also a garden blogger from NC.