Rent Shop Volunteer Join

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
3 ratings

Monday - August 02, 2010

From: Hodges, SC
Region: Southeast
Topic: Edible Plants
Title: Can beautyberries be used to make jelly from Hodges SC
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Since the beautyberry bush berries were used for tea to help with colic, can the berries be used for making jelly?

ANSWER:

Since Callicarpa americana (American beautyberry) grows natively all around Greenwood County SC, you should have a supply of the fruits for cooking, if you wished to.

This line from the page in our Native Plant Database on gives us the information on the medicinal uses of Callicarpa americana (American beautyberry):

"Use Medicinal: Native American used root and leaf tea in sweat baths for rheumatism, fevers, and malaria. Root tea used for dysentery, stomach aches. Root and berry tea used for colic."

Looking further, we found a site on the American beautyberry from Dave's Garden, which is a forum. You can read all the comments, but some we thought were interesting were that it was edible for human consumption although it didn't have much flavor, but was delicious made into a jelly. Another said that early Floridians made jelly from it. One person used them to make Beautyberry pancakes. And still another described it as not juicy like a blackberry, but pulpy like a soft, mealy apple. And finally, one said she had a recipe for jelly but hadn't tried it out yet; she didn't include the recipe, and we couldn't find one anywhere else.

We would say one word from experience, not with beautyberries, but with mustang grapes, which we picked growing wild from fences in Central Texas. They ripened in the middle of the summer, and we took them home, boiled them for what seemed like forever, strained all the seeds and skin out, and added a whole lot of sugar, and pectin. It was a hot, tiresome job-the jars of jelly were really pretty, and everyone loved them, except for the cook.  Some things are simply more trouble than they are worth. 

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Callicarpa americana

Callicarpa americana

Callicarpa americana

Callicarpa americana

 

 

 

 

More Edible Plants Questions

Can tulip tree sap be used to make syrup in Bunker Hill IN?
July 10, 2009 - I was just wondering if tulip tree sap could be used to make syrup. I saw the sticky stuff on the leaves and decided to taste test it and it was very sweet, unfortunately I later found out that I was ...
view the full question and answer

Use of cenizo (Leucophyllum frutescens) for tea
February 20, 2006 - Back in the 50's when I spent the summers with my grandmother south of Hondo, Texas, she use to pick leaves from the cenizo (purple sage) bushes, dry them and then brew them for tea. I asked one of m...
view the full question and answer

Growing non-native grapefruit from seeds from Austin
April 30, 2013 - Can you grow ruby red grapefruit trees from seeds?
view the full question and answer

Need source of plants for making teas in Bend, Oregon.
July 08, 2012 - I love to make my own tea, just moved to central Oregon and want to know some good plants I can find anywhere in town and can use in my teas.
view the full question and answer

Fiber and dye plants at the Wildflower Center from Round Rock TX
May 24, 2012 - When I visited the Wildflower Center recently I noticed a garden labeled as containing fiber and dye plants, but the individual plants and their uses were not all labeled. I would be very interested ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.