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Tuesday - March 23, 2010

From: Harmony, NC
Region: Southeast
Topic: Shrubs
Title: Possible source for seeds of American beautyberry and Eastern sweetshrub
Answered by: Nan Hampton and Joe Marcus


I have a nursery growing native plants in North Carolina. I would like to find a source to purchase seed for the white berried American beauty berry and Calycanthus floridus athens, can you suggest a possible source?


Mr. Smarty Plants has a National Suppliers Directory where you can search for nurseries, seed companies, landscape professionals and environmental specialists who specialize in native North American plants.  Many of these suppliers have websites that list the plants or seeds that they have for sale.  They all have some sort of contact information, if not websites. In fact, I was very happy to find the contact information for your nursery, Campbell Family Nursery, listed in our National Suppliers Directory as one of our Associates who offers a discount to members of the Wildflower Center.

If you search in our Native Plant Database pages for the two species you are looking for, Callicarpa americana (American beautyberry) and Calycanthus floridus (eastern sweetshrub), you can find the DISTRIBUTION for the plants.  Those are the states you should concentrate on to look for suppliers of seeds or plants of the two species.  Additionally, on the pages for these plants there are sections called FIND SEEDS OR PLANTS and/or FROM THE NATIONAL SUPPLIERS DIRECTORY that offers sources for the plants or seeds. 

Finding the particular varieties that you are looking for, the white-berried American beautyberry (according to North Carolina State University, this variety is Callicarpa americana var. lactea) and the eastern sweetshrub 'Athens' cultivar (Calycanthus floridus 'Athens'), is probably going to require a bit of telephoning and/or e-mailing to other nurseries or some intensive "Googling".  

There are some important considerations about growing these two variaties from seeds that you should consider.  Neither the white-fruited Callicarpa americana nor Calycanthus floridus (with the desirable sweet fragrance) can be reliably propagated by seeds.  Both should be propagated by cuttings.  The white-fruited Beautyberry is just a chance variant.  It will not necessarily pass the gene for lack of magenta-colored pigment to the next generation.  In fact, in most cases, it will not. The fragrance of Sweetshrub is wonderful.  However, the fragrance of this species is highly variable from individual to individual with some plants producing no fragrance at all, others producing only slight fragrance and still others perfuming the air all around them.  Also, the characteristics of the fragrance varies widely with some plants producing a clean, sweet fragrance while others may have very spicy or heavily sweet odors.  The cultivar, C. floridus 'Athens' (more properly, C. floridus 'Katherine', named by Dr. Mike Dirr, Professor of Horticulture at the University of Georgia, for his daughter) is a yellow-flowered plant with good fragrance.  Neither the flower color, nor the fragrance will be stable generationally.  


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