Marcus, Joseph A.
Callicarpa americana L.
American beautyberry, French mulberry
Verbenaceae (Verbena Family)
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
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: 49 photo(s) available
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: 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:
Purple, sometimes white. Size Class:
Bloom InformationBloom Color: White , Pink
Bloom Time: May , Jun , Jul
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 USDA Native Status: L48(N)
Growing ConditionsWater Use:
Low Light Requirement:
Part Shade Soil Moisture:
Moist CaCO3 Tolerance:
Medium Cold Tolerant:
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.
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:
Birds , Butterflies Nectar Source: