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Beautyberry Callicarpa americana

Other Common Name(s):

Phonetic Spelling
kal-ih-KAR-pah a-mer-ih-KAY-nah
Description

American Beautyberry is a deciduous shrub that grows to 5 feet. The leaves are alternate with a toothed margin and hairy underside. The bark is brown with numerous raised lenticels. Small, pink to bluish, tubular, flowers mature in mid- to late summer. The shrub produces a cluster of small, purple berries that matures in late summer to early fall.

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.

Plant as a specimen, or in shrub borders,  wildlife gardens, or even in containers.

Fire Risk: This plant has a low flammability rating.

Family name Lamiaceae (formerly Verbenaceae)

Can tolerate shade but better fruit in sun; prefers root moisture. Good in mass plantings, particular when fruiting.

 

Quick ID Hints:

  • petiole 1/2-1 inch long
  • magenta fruit clusters around node
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Alba'
    White fruits
  • 'C. americana var. lactea'
  • 'C. americana var. lectea'
Tags:
#fruit#deciduous#birds#songbirds#showy berries#container plant#wildlife plant#showy#native shrub#salt tolerant#low maintenance#winter interest#fall interest#clay soil#berries#playground#coastal#showy fruits#mammals#wet sites#food source#low flammability#NC native#white berries#children's garden#fire resistant#purple berries#wet soil#fantz#food source fall
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Alba'
    White fruits
  • 'C. americana var. lactea'
  • 'C. americana var. lectea'
Tags:
#fruit#deciduous#birds#songbirds#showy berries#container plant#wildlife plant#showy#native shrub#salt tolerant#low maintenance#winter interest#fall interest#clay soil#berries#playground#coastal#showy fruits#mammals#wet sites#food source#low flammability#NC native#white berries#children's garden#fire resistant#purple berries#wet soil#fantz#food source fall
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Callicarpa
    Species:
    americana
    Family:
    Lamiaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    Oils from the leaves act as a natural insect repellent.
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Southeastern United States
    Fire Risk Rating:
    low flammability
    Wildlife Value:
    Its fruits are eaten by catbirds, American robin, brown thrasher, purple finch, eastern towhee, and other songbirds, raccoons, squirrels, and black bear. It is a very important fall food for migrant songbirds. White-tailed deer browse on the leaves in the summer and on the fruit after leaf drops in the fall.
    Play Value:
    Wildlife Food Source
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    This plant is low maintenance and does not suffer from insect or disease problems. Resistant to fire in landscape.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 3 ft. 0 in. - 5 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 3 ft. 0 in. - 6 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Native Plant
    Shrub
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Arching
    Erect
    Open
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Deep shade (Less than 2 hours to no direct sunlight)
    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 Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    Available Space To Plant:
    3 feet-6 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Piedmont
    Usda Plant Hardiness Zone:
    6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b, 10a, 10b
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Pink
    Purple/Lavender
    Red/Burgundy
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Type:
    Drupe
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    Clusters of glossy pink-purple to red-violet drupes in fall. Magenta fruits circling the stem at nodes, prolific and showy.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Blue
    Pink
    Purple/Lavender
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Cyme
    Insignificant
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Summer
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    The flowers appear on new growth where the leaves meet the stem, giving them the appearance of surrounding the branch. The light lavender-pink flowers bloom in cymes at axils June through August to add a little summer color to the landscape.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Opposite
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Serrate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Opposite, simple, elliptical-ovate, 3 ½ - 6" long, ½ as wide, serrated, medium green, pubescent on top, tomentose below with glands. Petiole is ½ - 1" long.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Container
    Recreational Play Area
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Children's Garden
    Native Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Winter Garden
    Design Feature:
    Border
    Specimen
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Small Mammals
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Fire
    Salt
    Wet Soil