En EspaŅol

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?


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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Friday - August 03, 2012

From: Huntsville, AL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Non-Natives, Shrubs
Title: Distinguishing American from Chinese beautyberry from Huntsville AL
Answered by: Barbara Medford


How can I tell American beautyberry from Chinese beautyberry when trying to purchase strictly native plants?


Well, the first, best way would be if that nursery had tags with the scientific name on them. If you were lucky enough to find a nursery like that, a label that said Callicarpa americana (American beautyberry). That plant (if you were in a reputable nursery) would be the only member of the genus Callicarpa (beautyberry) listed in our native plant database as being native to North America. If you follow the link above, you will get good descriptions of the identifying features of the native plant.

However, this is the real world, and the labels (if there even is a label) will have trade names, secret names, and no indication of origin. Asking someone in the nursery is not likely to produce any better results. We found eight members of the Callicarpa genus that are not native to North America. We are going to list them with a link to each, if we can find a website with pictures. Whether this will be good enough to distinguish the native from the non-native, we don't know, but we'll give it a try.

Callicarpa bodinieri - native to China

Callicarpa bodinieri var. giraldii 'Profusion'

Callicarpa dichotoma

Callicarpa dichotoma 'Duet'

Callicarpa dichotoma 'Early Amethyst'

Callicarpa dichotoma 'Issai' Chinese  Beautyberry

Callicarpa japonica - Japanese Beautyberry

Callicarpa japonica - 'Leucocarpa'


From the Image Gallery

American beautyberry
Callicarpa americana

American beautyberry
Callicarpa americana

American beautyberry
Callicarpa americana

More Shrubs Questions

Evergreen, flowering hedge shrub for GA.
February 12, 2009 - Hi, there! I am looking for a shrub for planting as a hedge in Decatur, GA. I have hard acidic clay and I would like an evergreen flowering shrub to line the edges of my backyard to separate it from...
view the full question and answer

Shade Tree for Baltimore Patio
September 11, 2013 - I am looking for a deep-rooted shade tree (or a tall shrub) for near my patio in Baltimore, Md. I desire shade in summer, but with minimum impact to the patio. The tree would be about 20 feet from the...
view the full question and answer

Native Plant Suggestions for Dripping Springs
August 02, 2011 - I have a very dry commercial property in Dripping Springs TX where the dry sand/dust isn't a good rain conductor (whenever we get rain). What can we plant there? We have no irrigation and use a rai...
view the full question and answer

Erosion control on slope from Columbia SC
April 25, 2013 - We are in the process of having a new home built in Columbia South Carolina. Part of the front yard has a steep slope starting approximately four feet from the corner of the house and running to the ...
view the full question and answer

Deer Resistant Plants for Newton Square, PA
August 25, 2014 - I'm looking for highly deer resistant plants native to PA. Thank you!
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center