What a great name for this plant. It is indeed a “beautyberry.” More than 150 species of this knockout can be found. Some are small trees while some are medium to large shrubs. The fine folks of east and Southeast Asia enjoy the majority of the species of beautyberry. You can also find them in the wild in Australia, southeast North America and Central America.
Your beautiful beautyberry will lose its leaves unless you are lucky enough to find one of the tropical evergreen species. You not only will enjoy the purple or bright white berries for months, but flowers from white to pink will pop up initially.
Birds and other animals can survive on your beautyberries until late fall if they get hungry enough. Clever homemakers have been known to use the astringent berries in making wine and jelly.
The official name of beautyberry is callicarpa, which means “beautiful fruit.” The four most common species of the plant used in our area are American beautyberry, a native woodland plant that’s hardy in zones 7-11. According to the Clemson Agriculture website, three Asian species C. japonica from Japan and C. dichotoma and C. bodinieri from China are also great to use in zones 5-8. We are located so well, that we would probably have luck with all four options.
Most beautyberry species grow 4-6 feet tall and wide, but take care when purchasing as some grow much taller. This shrub or tree will grow moderately fast and live a long time. Their ideal soil is fertile, loose and well drained, although they can survive in less optimal soils.
If you want a showy abundant plant with berries for months, then try this beautiful option. The ripe berries of bright purple or white make them perfect for focal points in a natural wildlife garden. They would look good with forsythia and in mass plantings or used as screening plants. Be prepared for their beautiful sprawling nature.
Joette is an avid gardener and prides herself on staying up-to-date on the latest gardening activities and tips. To share your gardening news with Joette, call (409) 832-1400 or fax her at (409) 832-6222. Her e-mail is joreger [at] msn [dot] com.