American Beautyberry Scientific Name: Callicarpa americana
History/general species info: Genus name Callicarpa means “beautiful fruit.” Roots, leaves and branches were used by various Native American tribes for medicinal purposes to treat malarial fevers, rheumatism, dizziness, stomachaches and dysentery. In the early 20th century, farmers would crush the leaves and place them under the harnesses of horses and mules to repel mosquitoes and other biting bugs. Though not very palatable raw since they tend to be bitter, they can be cooked and sweetened to make jellies, sauces and wines.
Characteristics: Deciduous. Medium shrub, understory plant with beautiful clusters of purple berries. Long arching branches that are beautiful as a screen in wooded locations or under shade trees in a garden setting. Seeds and berries are important foods for many species of birds.
Flower: white, inconspicuous
Planting / Care: Low maintenance. Low water requirements. Medium heat tolerance. Salt tolerant. Fast growing in all well-draining soils. Purple fruit. Understory plant. Young beautyberry shrubs need about an inch of rain per week. Give them a slow, deep watering when rainfall isn’t enough. They are drought-tolerant once established. Beautyberries don’t need a lot of fertilizer, but will benefit from a shovelful or two of compost in spring.
Size and Spacing: Height: 6’ Spread: 6’
Light requirement: part shade
Wildlife: Hummingbirds, butterflies, general wildlife and pollinators