This wonderful native shrub, Callicarpa americana, aka beautyberry, is easy to grow and produces brilliant purple berries in the fall.
Callicarpa, commonly known as Beautyberry, is a favorite shrub grown for its bright almost neon purple berries that show up in late summer when everything else is dying back.
There are over 140 species of the Callicarpa. The American beautyberry, C. americana is native to the southeastern part of the United States. The plant I have in my garden is C. dichotoma ‘Early Amethyst,” a Korean cultivar that fruits a little earlier, has an overall slightly smaller shape and is hardy to zone 5. It’s very easy to grow in full sun or partial shade. It tolerates drought well and has few pest or disease issues.
In the spring I cut this shrub back to 12-18 inches high, and by late mid-summer it grows back to its full stature of around five feet tall by eight feet wide. This early pruning helps promote more prolific berries in the summer.
Interestingly, this native plant was said to be used by Native Americans for rheumatism, fevers, and malaria, stomach aches and colic. Today many people make beautyberry jelly and an insect repellent from the leaves. See this article from mother earth news about how the active ingredients from the beautyberry are compared to DEET.
As a bonus, it is not unusual to find a seedling or two, though the beautyberry is far from invasive. You may be able to purchase one for yourself at your local nursery. Around here they almost always have current bloomers for sale but if not, you can certainly find one through a mail order catalog online.
Add it to your wish list. Great color, easy to grow, and low maintenance makes the beautyberry bush a must have for any garden. Check out my article on 5 Must Have Shrubs for Your Garden to learn a little more about Callicarpa and a few of my other favorite shrubs.