Beautyberry | American Beautyberry – Callicarpa americana
Beautyberry, Callicarpa americanam, also known as or French Mulberry, is a small, deciduous, bruit bearing shrub or tree, reaching a height of 1 to 2 meters and just as much in width. Beautyberry is indigenous to Southern United States where is frequently grown as an ornamental in gardens.
Callicarpa americanam has long, arching branches and simple, opposite, 5-25cm long yellow-green fragrant leaves, in pairs or in threes. Edges are coarsely toothed except toward the base and near the tip.
As a folk remedy it has been claimed that “fresh, crushed leaves of American beautyberry, served to keep biting insects away from animals such as horses and mules. An isolated plant compound, callicarpenal, has reportedly been shown effective in tests as a mosquito repellent.
The flowers are conspicuous, white to pinkish, small, born in dense clusters in early summertime at the bases of the leaves.
American beautyberry plants produce large bunches of berries. The berry is 0.2-0.5cm in diameter, pink to red-purple. The raw berries, while palatably sweet, are suited for human consumption only in small quantities, because they are astringent. Fruit are also used in wine and jellies. A variety of Beautyberry called “lactea” has white fruits.
Beautyberry fruit hangs on after the leaves have fallen. The seeds and berries are important foods for numerous species of birds. Callicarpa americanam is a member of the family Lamiacea the genus Callicarpa.
Beautyberry Propagation Methods
Plant propagation is by seed, dispersed by birds, but also by root cuttings and softwood tip cuttings. Beautyberry is easily propagated and requires little maintenance. The plant prefers a rich swampy or moist soil, full sun, if ample moisture is provided, but can stand partial shade location.
Callicarpa americanam provides considerable value for edge landscapes along forest borders and fencerows. It is reasonably fire tolerant and increases in abundance after burns.
Beautyberry, American Beautyberry, Callicarpa americana
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