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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


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


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





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