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NPIN: Native Plant Database

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Callicarpa americana (American beautyberry)
Fannon, Carolyn

Callicarpa americana

Callicarpa americana L.

American beautyberry, French mulberry

Verbenaceae (Verbena Family)

Synonym(s): Callicarpa americana var. lactea

USDA Symbol: Caam2

USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

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.

 

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 , MO , MS , 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

Propagation

Propagation Material: Seeds
Description: Seed, Root cuttings, softwood tip cuttings and to a much lesser extent division of mature clumps
Commercially Avail: yes
Maintenance: Can be pruned severely right before new growth begins in the spring to control size or refresh an older plant, Prevent complete soil dryness

Find Seed or Plants

Order seed of this species from Native American Seed and help support the Wildflower Center.

View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.

Mr. Smarty Plants says

Shrub for part shade for hedge in Holly Ridge NC
April 07, 2010
We live in Coastal NC. We would like a type of shrub for the front of our home which is partial shade, similar style to a boxwood or trainable hedge. What NC native would compare?
view the full question and answer

Native plant to replace invasive non-native nandina in Houston
February 28, 2010
I'm just now finding out that Nandinas are an invasive species from our local chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas. I have three of them in my front yard and want to replace them. Can you sug...
view the full question and answer

Attracting butterflies in Tennessee
July 03, 2009
What flowers and plants do the caterpillars in Tennessee eat? And do you know what butterflies live in Tipton Co. Tennessee?
view the full question and answer

Native shrub to replace non-native azaleas.
February 10, 2009
I want to replace my two dozen azaleas this spring (I think they're unattractive once the flowers fall off). I like the multiseason characteristics of weigela (midnight wine, W&R), but want to go na...
view the full question and answer

Variety of native tall plants for a screen in shady area near Ft. Worth
June 12, 2007
Hello, we live west of Ft Worth. We are looking for tall plants to form a visual screen along a chain link fence we share with a neighbor. We have post oaks there and it is very shady and the ground ...
view the full question and answer

National Wetland Indicator Status

Region:AGCPAKAWCBEMPGPHIMWNCNEWMVE
Status: FACU FACU FACU FACU
This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

From the National Suppliers Directory

According to the inventory provided by Associate Suppliers, this plant is available at the following locations:

Wrights Nursery - Briggs, TX
Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation Native Plant Nursery - Sanibel, FL
Campbell Family Nursery - Harmony, NC
American Native Nursery - Quakertown, PA
Hill Country Natives - Leander, TX
Far South Wholesale Nursery - Austin, TX

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - Austin, TX
Pineywoods Native Plant Center - Nacogdoches, TX
Texas Discovery Gardens - Dallas, TX
Sibley Nature Center - Midland, TX
Delaware Nature Society - Hockessin, DE
Brackenridge Field Laboratory - Austin, TX
Patsy Glenn Refuge - Wimberley, TX
Native Plant Society of Texas - Fredericksburg, TX
Crosby Arboretum - Picayune, MS
Stengl Biological Research Station - Smithville, TX
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department - Austin, TX
NPSOT - Fredericksburg Chapter - Fredericksburg, TX
Georgia Native Plant Society - Atlanta, GA
Texas Master Naturalists - Lost Pines Chapter - Bastrop, TX
NPSOT - Austin Chapter - Austin, TX
Jacob's Well Natural Area - Wimberley, TX
NPSOT - Williamson County Chapter - Georgetown, TX
Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE

Wildflower Center Seed Bank

LBJWC-577 Collected 2007-09-16 in Travis County by Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

1 collection(s) available in the Wildflower Center Seed Bank

Bibliography

Bibref 417 - Field Guide to Medicinal Plants and Herbs of Eastern and Central North America (2000) Foster, S. & J. A. Duke
Bibref 1620 - Gardening with Native Plants of the South (Reprint Edition) (2009) Wasowski, S. with A. Wasowski
Bibref 355 - Landscaping with Native Plants of Texas and the Southwest (1991) Miller, G. O.
Bibref 354 - Native & Naturalized Woody Plants of Austin & the Hill Country (1981) Lynch, D.
Bibref 841 - Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants (2006) Burrell, C. C.
Bibref 318 - Native Texas Plants: Landscaping Region by Region (2002) Wasowski, S. & A. Wasowski
Bibref 248 - Texas Wildflowers: A Field Guide (1984) Loughmiller, C. & L. Loughmiller
Bibref 291 - Texas Wildscapes: Gardening for Wildlife (1999) Damude, N. & K.C. Bender
Bibref 328 - Wildflowers of Texas (2003) Ajilvsgi, Geyata.
Bibref 286 - Wildflowers of the Texas Hill Country (1989) Enquist, M.

Search More Titles in Bibliography

From the Archive

Wildflower Newsletter 1998 VOL. 15, NO.5 - Native Shrubs Providing Landscape Heritage and Habitat, Executive Director\'s Re...

Additional resources

USDA: Find Callicarpa americana in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Callicarpa americana in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Callicarpa americana

Metadata

Record Modified: 2013-10-24
Research By: TWC Staff, RLU

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