Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - The University of Texas at Austin information

 Native Plant Database

Callicarpa americana


American beautyberry, French mulberry


Verbenaceae (Verbena Family)



Callicarpa americana (American beautyberry)
Fannon, Carolyn
American beauty-berry most often grows 3-5 ft. tall and usually just as wide, It can reach 9 ft. in height in favorable soil and moisture conditions. It has long, arching branches and yellow-green fall foliage, but its most striking feature is the clusters of glossy, iridescent-purple fruit (sometimes white) which hug the branches at leaf axils in the fall and winter. Bark light brown on the older wood, reddish brown on younger wood. Bark smooth, with elongate, raised corky areas (lenticels); twigs round to 4 sided, covered with branched hairs visible under a l0x hand lens. Leaves in pairs or in threes, blades half as wide as long and up to 9 inches long, ovate to elliptic, pointed or blunt at the tip and tapered to the base; margins coarsely toothed except toward the base and near the tip, teeth pointed or rounded; lower surface of young leaves covered with branched hairs. Flowers small, pink, in dense clusters at the bases of the leaves, clusters usually not exceeding the leaf petioles. Fruit distinctly colored, rose pink or lavender pink, berrylike, about 1/4 inch long and 3/16 inch wide, in showy clusters, persisting after the leaves have fallen.

The seeds and berries are important foods for many species of birds, particularly the Northern Bobwhite. Foliage is a favorite of White-tailed Deer.

Image Gallery:

63 photo(s) available

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Shrub
Root Type: Tap
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Leaf Arrangement: Opposite
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Leaf Shape: Elliptic , Ovate
Leaf Margin: Serrate
Fruit Type: Drupe
Size Notes: Grows 3 to 6 high and 4 to 6 wide.
Leaf: Green
Autumn Foliage: yes
Flower: Stamens exserted.
Fruit: Purple, sometimes white.
Size Class: 3-6 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White , Pink
Bloom Time: May , Jun , Jul

Distribution

USA: AL , AR , FL , GA , LA , MD , MS , MO , NC , OK , SC , TN , TX , VA
Native Distribution: VA to AR, s. to FL & e. TX
Native Habitat: Found in woods, moist thickets, wet slopes, low rich bottomlands, and at the edges of swamps in the Piney Woods, Post Oak Woods, Blackland woodlands, and coastal woodlands. Moist woods; coastal plains; swamp edges, bottomlands

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
CaCO3 Tolerance: Medium
Cold Tolerant: yes
Heat Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Moist, rich soils, Sandy, Sandy Loam, Medium Loam, Clay Loam, Clay, Acid-based, Calcareous
Conditions Comments: American beautyberry is a wonderful, large understory shrub with a naturally loose and graceful arching form. In the fall and early winter, the branches are laden with magenta purple (sometimes white) berry clusters that look spectacular as the leaves drop in autumn. It is useful as a screen in swampy or wooded locations or under shade trees in a garden setting. It can be cut to 12 above the base each winter to encourage more compact growth, flowers and fruit. It can also be left to mature naturally into a tall woody shrub. The shrub may temporarily defoliate and lose developing fruit during periods of prolonged summer drought.

Benefit

Use Ornamental: Of considerable value for edge landscapes and surface mine reclamation. Good understory shrub. Easily propagated and requires little maintenance.
Use Wildlife: Valuable as a wildlife food plant.
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.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Fragrant Foliage: yes
Attracts: Birds , Butterflies
Nectar Source: yes
Deer Resistant: No

Last Update: 2013-10-24