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Callicarpa americana

Common Name(s):
American beautyberry
C. america var. lectea, C. americana var. lactea
Native Plants, Shrubs

American Beautyberry or French Mulberry

This drought tollerant native deciduous shrub may reach heights of eight feet.  It is found in zones 5 to 8 and grows best in full sun, but will tolerate some shade, though there will be a reduction in flower and fruit production in the shade.  It has a loose or open, arching habit, which, along with the 3 ½ to 6-inch long leaves, gives this plant a course texture.  It is best used in a natural area or mass planted.  The leaves of the Beautyberry are opposite in arrangement and the color is a light green.  In the fall the leaves turn a lovely shade of yellowy green. This plant is seldom damaged by deer.

The flowers of the American Beautyberry appear on new growth where the leaves meet the stem giving them the appearance of surrounding the branch.  The light lavender-pink flowers appear June through August to add a little summer color to the landscape. 

The real beauty of this plant is the unusual ¼ inch purple fruit that surrounds the stem in the fall.  The fruit ripens for an extended period of time so as the birds eat some of the fruit there is still more ripening to keep the color.  Cut back severely in late fall to produce the most berries next year.  Flowers and berries appear on new shoots.

There are other species of beautyberry in the landscape trade.  The most common is the Callicarpa dichotoma or Purple Beautyberry with a more compact, dense habit and smaller fruits and leaves.  This plant is an introduction from China or Japan and also grows in zones 5 to 8.   Avoid excessive fertilizer.



3-4 ft.
Opposite, simple, medium green leaves; 3-6 in. long; loose, open stems; yellow-green fall color
Small, white to pink flowers in summer
7 to 10
Sun to partial shade; dry to moist soil; best fruit production in full sun and moist soil
Semi-formal, oval to rounded; upswept, arching branches
Sun to partial shade; dry to moist soil
Clusters of glossy pink-purple to red-violet berries in fall
4-5 ft.
deciduous, deer resistant

NCCES plant id: 448

Callicarpa americana flowers
Forest & Kim Starr, CC BY - 2.0
Callicarpa americana entire plant
Forest & Kim Starr, CC BY - 2.0
Callicarpa americana leaves & berries
Forest & Kim Starr, CC BY - 2.0
Callicarpa americana branch with berries
Forest and Kim Starr, CC BY - 2.0