american beautyberry
Callicarpa americana


A Beautyberry bush in full fruit is one of the loveliest sites in
a Carolina garden. Long branches of purple berry clusters appear on the shrub in late summer. They are quite striking. The foliage of American Beautyberry species is light to medium green, casting a perfect foil to the berries.

Callicarpa americana is native to the southeastern U.S. from
Maryland to Missouri and Florida to Texas. It is well adapted to growth in most any region of its natural habitat and is tolerant of a wide range of soils.

It is tough, vigorous, undemanding and exceptionally easy to grow. It will perform best where it receives full sun and adequate soil moisture, although it is quite drought tolerant Callicarpa species are also native to other regions of the globe, particularly Japan.

The japonica (dichotoma) variety is widely available and very similar in most aspects to the americana species. It is slightly more cold tolerant and fruits in a different pattern. The lactea variety of the American species features white berries.
A beautyberry shrub will leaf out in early spring here in the
Carolinas. Blooms will appear as small white to pink flowers, clustered along stems and branches in middle summer. Bees are attracted to them. Berries will develop and ripen thereafter and persist into late autumn.

Ripe berries are browsed by songbirds who will volunteer to clean up your shrub come late autumn or early winter. If preferred, the berries can be harvested when ripe and made into a jam or jelly, although some find the flavor a bit bland.
Native Callicarpa is nearly completely free of common garden diseases and is not a favorite of destructive insects or pests.Beautyberry will bloom and fruit even if neglected for years.

However, size, shape and berry production can be managed with pruning. A mature plant (1-2 seasons old) can be pruned hard (2/3 or more of plant structure) in late winter to early spring annually or biannually to encourage vigorous new growth on mature wood. Regular pruning will also encourage new shoot growth from roots. Light pruning during the recommended periodis also quite acceptable to manage a desired size or shape. It is also acceptable (but not necessary) to fertilize with an all purpose, balanced mixture in late winter or early spring before new buds begin to swell. This may increase berry production to some degree. Most gardeners seem to prefer the purple fruiting varieties but white berried types are also grown and appreciated.


Season of Bloom
middle summer, deep purple berries appear after
bloom and persist into middle to late autumn.
Height
: 3-6 feet tall and wide at maturity.
Hardiness USDA
USDA Zones USDA Zones 6a to 10b
Flower Color
lilac, purple, lavender, pink or white (depending on
cultivar)
Growth Rate
rapid growth bears attractive fruit on new wood, so it can be cut back to the ground in early spring.
Habit/Foliage/Class
woody ornamental shrub, open form,
deciduous, fruiting, light to medium green, textured foliage.
Soil
very tolerant of multiple soil types: sandy, loam, clay and
wetlands.
Exposure
Full Sun to partial shade.
Propagation
seeds, hardwood cuttings, softwood cuttings,layering.