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Callicarpa americana is often confused with:
Callicarpa acuminata Callicarpa acuminata
Callicarpa bodinieri callicarpa bodinieri
Callicarpa dichotoma Callicarpa dichotoma
Native alternative(s) for Callicarpa americana:
Viburnum dentatum Viburnum dentatum
Plants that fill a similar niche:
Vaccinium pallidum Form
Viburnum rufidulum Viburnum rufidulum bloom in spring
Tilia americana Tilia americana

Callicarpa americana

Previously known as:

  • Callicarpa americana var. alba
  • Callicarpa americana var. lactea
  • Callicarpa americana var. purpurea
  • Callicarpa serrata
  • Callicarpa vibrunifolia
Phonetic Spelling
kal-ee-KAR-puh a-mer-ih-KAY-nah
Description

The American Beautyberry is a native, medium-sized, ornamental, deciduous, shrub that produces showy purple fruits in the fall. It is a member of the Lamiaceae or mint family. This fast-growing shrub is native to central and southeastern United States as well as the Caribbean and northern Mexico.  The shrub is also known as Beautyberry, American Mulberry, French Mulberry, or Sour-bush. The genus, Callicarpa, is Greek and means beautiful fruit. The species name, americana, means "of the Americas."

It is typically found in open meadows, thickets, or woodlands. In the spring, green leaves emerge on upright arching stems. Clusters of flowers bloom on the stems in colors of blue, violet, pink, or white during the late spring and early summer. Clusters of purplish to bluish berries develop in August through October and encircle the stem. A pink fruited and several white fruited forms have been found. The fruits may last through early winter. They are a good food source for songbirds and small mammals. 

The shrub prefers full sun and is intolerant to deep shade. It can be propagated by seeds, stem cuttings, or transplanting volunteer plants. The American Beautyberry needs little care once it is established.

This fall fruiting shrub is suited for mass plantings, large landscapes, naturalized areas, and container gardening. They seem to produce more fruit if several more of the same type shrubs are planted nearby. The leaves when crushed produce a chemical that can repel mosquitos. 

The American Beautyberry is similar but taller than the Mexican Beautyberry.

This shrub may be susceptible to leaf spots and black mold. Allow plenty of room for this large shrub unless regular pruning is done. If pruning is needed, it is best done in late winter. It is recommended that old canes be removed for rejuvenation of the shrub because the flowers and fruits appear on new shoots,

See this plant in the following landscapes:
Asian Garden- Zen Garden Border Landscape Pinewild County Club, Moore County Pinehurst Greenway Pollinator Habitat Garden, Moore County Asian Garden- Zen Garden Pinehurst Greenway Pollinator Habitat Garden, Moore County Foundation Planting- West Side of House
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Alba'
    White berries
  • 'Lactea'
    White berries and attractive foliage
  • 'Russell Montgomery'
    White berries
  • Welch's Pink
    Pink berries
'Alba', 'Lactea', 'Russell Montgomery', Welch's Pink
Tags:
#deciduous#showy berries#container plant#wildlife plant#showy#native shrub#low maintenance#winter interest#fall interest#berries#small mammals#food source#low flammability#NC native#white berries#children's garden#fire resistant#purple berries#pollinator plant#food source fall#food source pollen#fruits#clay soils tolerant#bird friendly#butterfly friendly
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Alba'
    White berries
  • 'Lactea'
    White berries and attractive foliage
  • 'Russell Montgomery'
    White berries
  • Welch's Pink
    Pink berries
'Alba', 'Lactea', 'Russell Montgomery', Welch's Pink
Tags:
#deciduous#showy berries#container plant#wildlife plant#showy#native shrub#low maintenance#winter interest#fall interest#berries#small mammals#food source#low flammability#NC native#white berries#children's garden#fire resistant#purple berries#pollinator plant#food source fall#food source pollen#fruits#clay soils tolerant#bird friendly#butterfly friendly
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Callicarpa
    Species:
    americana
    Family:
    Lamiaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    Native Americans used the roots, leaves, and branches to treat malaria and rheumatism. The roots were also used to treat dizziness and dysentery. In the past, U.S. farmers crushed the leaves and placed them under the harnesses of their horses and mules to repel mosquitoes. The Agricultural Research Service has found that two compounds in the leaves, callicarpenal, and intermedeol, act as a mosquito repellant.
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Central and Southeastern United States, Bermuda, and Cuba
    Distribution:
    AL, AR, Bahamas, Bermuda, Cuba, FL, GA, KY, LA, MD, MS, MO, NC, northern Mexico, OK, SC, TN, TX, VA
    Fire Risk Rating:
    low flammability
    Wildlife Value:
    The shrub's clusters of berries are a food source for many songbirds, including the American Robin, Brown Thrasher, Purple Finch, and Eastern Towhee. The berries are also consumed by armadillos, foxes, opossum, raccoons, and squirrels. White-tailed deer are known to browse on the leaves in the summer and enjoy the fruits after leaf drops in the fall.
    Play Value:
    Wildlife Food Source
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    This plant is low maintenance and diseases and pests problems are relatively low. Resistant to fire in landscape.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 3 ft. 0 in. - 8 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 3 ft. 0 in. - 6 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Native Plant
    Perennial
    Shrub
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Arching
    Erect
    Open
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    High Organic Matter
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    Available Space To Plant:
    3 feet-6 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    6a, 6b, 7b, 7a, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b, 10b, 10a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Blue
    Purple/Lavender
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Type:
    Berry
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    The fruits are clusters of small bluish to purplish berries that form a whorl and encircle the stems. They appear in August through October and may last through the winter. They are a valuable food source for songbirds and small mammals. Each berry is about 1/4 inch long with 2 to 4 seeds. Each seed measures about 1/16 inch long.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Blue
    Pink
    Purple/Lavender
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Cyme
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Summer
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    The flowers emerge in clusters late spring to early summer on the new growth of the shrub where the leaves meet the stem. It gives them the appearance that they are surrounding the branch. The blooms may be blue, violet, pink, or white in color. They bloom in cymes at axils from June through July to add a little summer color to the landscape.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Opposite
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Serrate
    Hairs Present:
    Yes
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    The leaves emerge in the spring on long arching stems. They are medium green in color, simple, ovate to elliptical in shape, and appear opposite in arrangement. The tip of the leaf is pointed or blunt, and the base is tapered. The margins are saw-toothed or serrated, and the undersides of the leaf may be covered with wooly hairs. They are usually 3 ½ - 6" in length and about ½ as wide. In the fall the leaves turn pale chartreuse before dropping from the shrub
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Light Brown
    Red/Burgundy
    Surface/Attachment:
    Smooth
    Bark Description:
    The bark color on the older wood is light brown, but the young wood appears reddish-brown. The bark is smooth, but corky ridges are seen.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Gray/Silver
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Cross Section:
    Square
    Stem Form:
    Straight
    Stem Surface:
    Hairy (pubescent)
    Stem Description:
    The stems are long, slender, and arching. They may be rounded to four-sided. They appear gray to reddish in color and may be covered with very fine hairs.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Container
    Naturalized Area
    Recreational Play Area
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Children's Garden
    Native Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Winter Garden
    Design Feature:
    Border
    Mass Planting
    Specimen
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Pollinators
    Small Mammals
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Fire