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Purple Beautyberry Callicarpa dichotoma

Previously known as:

  • Callicarpa gracilis
  • Callicarpa jamamurasaki
  • Callicarpa japonica var. dichotoma
  • Callicarpa purpurea
  • Porphyra dichotoma
Phonetic Spelling
kal-ee-KAR-puh dy-KOH-toh-mah
Description

Purple beautyberry, in the Lamiaceae (mint) family, is a small rounded, compact, deciduous, woody shrub with showy, ornamental fruits that may last long after the shrub has dropped its leaves for winter. It is a native of China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam. The genus, Callicarpa, is Greek and means beautiful fruit. The species, dichotoma, means forked in pairs. The shrub has been introduced in the United States and Taiwan, but it is not widely available. 

Purple beautyberry is easy to grow and low maintenance. It is typically 2 to 4 feet tall with a weeping effect that is common to other beautyberries preferring full sun to ensure plentiful fruit and flower production. The stems may become leggy if the shrub is planted in too much shade.   Plant it in well draining soil and once it is established it will be quite drought tolerant. Clusters of pink to lavender flowers emerge in late spring and summer on new wood, and clusters of lilac-violet berries ripen in September through October. Pruning may be performed in late winter or early spring. Propagate this shrub through stem cuttings. 

Cultivars are available within this species. Depending on the selection, the berries may be white or purple in color, or the leaves may be variegated. Its leaves are smaller and closer together on the stems than the American beautyberry or Japanese beautyberry. 

When the shrub is planted in groups or masses, it improves cross-pollination and fruit production. The shrub attracts bees and butterflies for pollination. Birds and small mammals are attracted to the fruit, yet deer rarely bother this shrub. Since it is smaller, the purple beautyberry is a good specimen for a container or patio garden as well as a children’s garden or a cottage garden. 

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems: Susceptible to leaf spot, stem diseases, and black mold. 

VIDEO Created by Elizabeth Meyer for "Trees, Shrubs and Conifers" a plant identification course offered in partnership with Longwood Gardens.

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Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Albifructus'
    White berries
  • 'Duet'
    Variegated foliage and white berries
  • 'Early Amethyst'
    Small purple berries
  • 'Issai'
    Abundant violet-blue berries, hardy shrub
  • 'Luxurians'
  • 'Spring Gold'
'Albifructus', 'Duet', 'Early Amethyst', 'Issai', 'Luxurians', 'Spring Gold'
Tags:
#cultivars#arching#deciduous#full sun tolerant#small spaces#shrub#wildlife plant#deciduous shrub#low maintenance#tsc#showy fruits#fast growing#well-drained soil#deer resistant#pollinator plant#purple fruits#bird friendly#tsc-s#bee friendly
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Albifructus'
    White berries
  • 'Duet'
    Variegated foliage and white berries
  • 'Early Amethyst'
    Small purple berries
  • 'Issai'
    Abundant violet-blue berries, hardy shrub
  • 'Luxurians'
  • 'Spring Gold'
'Albifructus', 'Duet', 'Early Amethyst', 'Issai', 'Luxurians', 'Spring Gold'
Tags:
#cultivars#arching#deciduous#full sun tolerant#small spaces#shrub#wildlife plant#deciduous shrub#low maintenance#tsc#showy fruits#fast growing#well-drained soil#deer resistant#pollinator plant#purple fruits#bird friendly#tsc-s#bee friendly
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Callicarpa
    Species:
    dichotoma
    Family:
    Lamiaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    China, Japan, Korea, Nansei-Shoto, and Vietnam.
    Distribution:
    China Northcentral, China Southcentral, China Southeast, Japan, Korea, Nansei-Shoto, and Vietnam; Introduced in Taiwan and the United States in AL, DE, KY, NC, SC, TN, and VA
    Wildlife Value:
    Birds and small mammals are attracted to their fruits. Bees and butterflies are attracted to the flowers for pollination. Deer seldom damaged this shrub.
    Play Value:
    Attracts Pollinators
    Easy to Grow
    Wildlife Food Source
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    Drought and deer
    Dimensions:
    Height: 2 ft. 0 in. - 4 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 2 ft. 0 in. - 4 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Shrub
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Dense
    Rounded
    Weeping
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    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
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    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:
    5b, 5a, 6b, 6a, 7b, 7a, 8b, 8a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Purple/Lavender
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Type:
    Berry
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    After flowering, clusters of lilac-violet berries appear and ripen in September. Each berry measures about 1/8 inch in diameter. They are present through October and more prominent after leaf drop. They may last until early winter and are a good food source for birds.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Pink
    Purple/Lavender
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Cyme
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Summer
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    The flowers are clusters of pinkish-lavender blooms that appear along the leaf axils on new wood. They bloom from June to August.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Papery
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Opposite
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Obovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Serrate
    Hairs Present:
    Yes
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Width:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Description:
    The leaves are green, simple, elliptic to ovate in shape, and appear opposite in arrangement. The leaves measure 1 to 3 inches long and about half as wide. The margins are serrate. Stellate hairs are noted on young leaves. The mature leaf has yellow glandular hairs on the margins of the leaf. In the fall the leaves turn yellow before they drop from the shrub.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Light Brown
    Light Gray
    Bark Description:
    The bark is gray-brown.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Red/Burgundy
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Cross Section:
    Round
    Stem Form:
    Straight
    Stem Lenticels:
    Conspicuous
    Stem Description:
    The stem is reddish in color, long, arching, and slender.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Container
    Patio
    Walkways
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Children's Garden
    Cottage Garden
    Drought Tolerant Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Design Feature:
    Border
    Foundation Planting
    Mass Planting
    Specimen
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Butterflies
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Drought