American Beautyberry- a great native shrub

Close up of a Callicarpa Americana

Close up of a Callicarpa Americana

I love purple and this is one reason why I love the American beautyberry (Callicarpa Americana). The vibrant purple berries on this bush in the fall are so eye catching against the green of their leaves. This bush stands out in the fall in gardens and is hardy for zones for 6-8. The height and width of this plant varies in colder climates and in growing conditions. The size can range from 3-8′ tall and wide. Here in the south it can easily reach the 8′ and more.

Callicarpa americana

Callicarpa americana

In the spring the American beautyberry has small delicate light lavender and purple flowers which turn to the same color berries in the summer. By fall they turn the deep vibrant purple. This plant grows in part shade to sun and seems to love filtered sun in the southern regions. I have found that it can tolerate full sun as long as the soil is moist. This plant is adaptable and will grow in most soils -wet to dry but I have found that if the soil is too dry (as in this drought I have had) the plant does not produce many berries. If you have room, I would definitely add to this a woodland area or mixed in with some evergreens.

Beautyberry bloom

The small flowers blooming late June

The American beautyberry is a bird magnet in the fall. The berries are a food source for many types of birds. I have this in my back yard and the Cardinals love it. You can find this bush in your local garden nurseries and garden centers this time of year with the gorgeous purple berries beckoning to be bought and planted in your woodland area.

Close up of Amethyst Falls

Close up of Early Amethyst

One cultivar, Early Amethyst, is very similar to the Americana (native). The variations in leaves and clusters of berries is how the trained eye can tell (which is not me). I love them all and so if I see a purple berry I have to research which callicarpa or beautyberry it is.The Amethyst is a popular one in the garden centers and can be easily grown in zones 5-9.

Japonica is another one sold in garden centers and the berries seem to be loosely clustered and lighter in color from the Americana native. The picture below is courtesy of a fellow blogger and gardener who grows the Callicarpa japonica in her yard (in zone 5 Midwest). This bush is in shade except between the hours of 10-2 and will wilt if the soil becomes too dry. The leaves of the japonica are narrower and pointier than the Americana and dies down to ground in winter. It is a fast grower and easy to start from seed. I may just have to try this in my garden especially since she said it bloomed the 2nd year of growth!

2014-10-02 13.27.45

Creating. Inspiring. Gardening without the rules!

copyrighted 2014/15/16  C Renee Fuller


One thought on “American Beautyberry- a great native shrub

  1. Pingback: Digging up my garden | The Garden Frog

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