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Japanese Beautyberry Callicarpa japonica

Other Common Name(s):

Previously known as:

  • Amictonis japonica
Phonetic Spelling
kal-ee-KAR-puh jah-PON-ih-kah
Description

The Japanese Beautyberry is a moderate-sized, rounded, deciduous shrub with slender, arching branches. It grows to 4-6 feet tall, and it is perhaps a better species for residential landscapes. The American Beautyberry is larger and may grow to 8 feet tall. 

The Japanese Beautyberry is a native of China and East Asia. It was introduced to western cultivation in 1845. It was cultivated in Denmark in 1916, and it has also been introduced in the State of North Carolina. The genus, Callicarpa, is Greek and means beautiful fruit. The species name, Japonica, means of Japan. It is a member of the Lamiaceae or mint family.

The leaves are a medium green and turn greenish-yellow with a purplish cast in the fall before leaf drop. Clusters of pinkish-white flowers bloom in June on new wood, Beautiful glossy violet-purple berries emerge late summer. They are more prominent in October when not obscured by the foliage. Birds are attracted to the fruits as a food source. 

They prefer full sun and will become leggy if planted in the shade. Well-drained soil is recommended, and the shrub is somewhat drought tolerant. Cross-pollination and improved fruit production may occur if they are planted in groups or mass plantings. It is recommended to prune old stems in late winter or early spring.

In Japan, the plant stems are used as chopsticks. The Japanese Beautyberry is mostly used in the garden for its colorful ornamental berries. When planted 4 to 5 feet apart, they form a nice border.

Cultivars are available, and some produce white berries and others have narrower leaves.

They have no serious insect or disease problems, but they may be susceptible to leaf spots, stem diseases, and black mold.

 

 

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Augustata'
    Narrow leaves
  • 'Leucocarpa'
    White berries and light green leaves
  • 'Luxurians'
    Large shrub and large fruit
'Augustata', 'Leucocarpa', 'Luxurians'
Tags:
#deciduous#shrub#wildlife plants#low maintenance#fall interest#mass planting#border planting#pollinator plant#food source fall#butterfly friendly#bee friendly
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Augustata'
    Narrow leaves
  • 'Leucocarpa'
    White berries and light green leaves
  • 'Luxurians'
    Large shrub and large fruit
'Augustata', 'Leucocarpa', 'Luxurians'
Tags:
#deciduous#shrub#wildlife plants#low maintenance#fall interest#mass planting#border planting#pollinator plant#food source fall#butterfly friendly#bee friendly
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Callicarpa
    Species:
    japonica
    Family:
    Lamiaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    In Japan, the plant stems are used for chopsticks.
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    China and East Asia
    Distribution:
    China Northcentral, China Southcentral, Chinasoutheast, Japan, Korea Nansei-Shoto, Taiwan, and introduced in the United States in North Carolina and Denmark
    Wildlife Value:
    Pollinators such as bees and butterflies are attracted to the flowers. The berries are a food source for birds.
    Play Value:
    Attracts Pollinators
    Wildlife Food Source
    Dimensions:
    Height: 4 ft. 0 in. - 6 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 4 ft. 0 in. - 6 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Shrub
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Arching
    Rounded
    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
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Alkaline (>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:
    The fruits are clusters of showy violet-colored berries that appear in the fall. Each berry measures 1/16 inch in diameter. The fruits are very prominent after the leaves drop. This showy fruit is a good source of food for birds.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Pink
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Cyme
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Summer
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    The flowers are 1 to 1.5-inch clusters of pinkish-white blossoms that appear on the new wood of the shrub. They are usually obscured by the foliage and typically bloom in June through July.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Pink
    Purple/Lavender
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Opposite
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Serrate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    The leaves are medium-green in color, elliptic to ovate in shape, simple, and appear opposite in arrangement. The leaf is smooth with a pointed tip, and the margins are serrated. They measure 2 to 5 inches long and are 1.5 to 2 inches wide. In the fall, the leaves' color changes to yellow-green with a purplish tint before leaf drop.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Light Brown
    Light Gray
    Surface/Attachment:
    Lenticels
    Smooth
    Bark Description:
    The bark is smooth with circular lenticels and is grayish-brown in color.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Green
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Buds:
    Hairy
    Stem Bud Scales:
    No scales, covered in hair
    Stem Lenticels:
    Conspicuous
    Stem Description:
    The stems are slender and green. Young shoots have star-shaped hairs.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Container
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Design Feature:
    Border
    Mass Planting
    Small groups
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Butterflies
    Songbirds