Contact Us Host an Event Volunteer Join

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?

Share

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - October 22, 2015

From: Portsmouth, VA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Poisonous Plants, Herbs/Forbs, Shrubs, Trees
Title: Food Allergy to Beautyberry or Persimmon?
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

I think I might have a food allergy to Beautyberry or American Persimmon, eaten Saturday at the North Carolina Great Dismal park. These were the only strange foods recently, though I've had persimmon before ok. By Monday I started to get a rash typical of food allergy and still have it Tuesday night. Just a caution, some people might be allergic. The berries I ate smelled like light perfume and had the same for taste but not strongly.

ANSWER:

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

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.

Nan Hampton answered a previous Mr. Smarty Plants question about the toxicity of American beautyberry and has some good references included.

Diospyros virginiana (common persimmon)  In old fields, common persimmon is a low, shrubby tree, 15 ft. tall. In rich, moist soil the species becomes a large tree, up to 100 ft. tall, with a spreading crown and pendulous branches. Bell-shaped, yellow flowers are hidden by half-grown leaves. Large, oval, mature leaves usually become yellow-green in fall. The large, orange, edible fruit attracts wildlife. On old trunks the bark is thick and dark-gray to almost black and broken into scaly, squarish blocks. Common persimmon is deciduous. Best-known by its sweet, orange fruit in autumn.

When ripe, the sweet fruit of Persimmon somewhat recalls the flavor of dates. Immature fruit contains tannin and is strongly astringent. Persimmons are consumed fresh and are used to make puddings, cakes, and beverages. American Indians made persimmon bread and stored the dried fruit like prunes. Opossums, raccoons, skunks, deer, and birds also feed upon the fruit. Principal uses of the wood are for golf-club heads, shuttles for textile weaving, and furniture veneer. Deliciously sweet when ripe, these persimmons were the native fruits most prized by indigenous people of the Southeast.


There is information online about people showing an allergic reaction to persimmon.

It is wise to consult your primary physician in cases of food allergies.

 

From the Image Gallery


American beautyberry
Callicarpa americana

American beautyberry
Callicarpa americana

American beautyberry
Callicarpa americana

Common persimmon
Diospyros virginiana

Common persimmon
Diospyros virginiana

Common persimmon
Diospyros virginiana

More Herbs/Forbs Questions

Pruning for Spring
January 21, 2007 - When should I cut back (and how far should I cut back) the following plants in order to promote growth in the spring: Salvia gregii, Salvia leucantha, Ruellia (Mexican petunia), Plumbago, Sku...
view the full question and answer

Landscaping around a pear tree in Tyler, TX.
September 22, 2010 - We have a large raised flower bed, approximately ten feet by ten feet, surrounding a mature flowering pear tree. Do you have any suggestions for landscaping with native plants in this bed?
view the full question and answer

Need a good plant for Clayton, NC.
August 23, 2012 - What would be a good plant for Clayton,NC for this time of year. I would like for it to come back every year so I don't have to replant. I have several full sun areas that I need to cover in the fron...
view the full question and answer

Pruning pink skullcap and rock daisy from Austin
February 06, 2013 - I have some pink skullcap and rock daisy and other plants in my yard that never entirely die back over the winter. Can you tell me what kind of pruning is appropriate? How far can/should I cut them ...
view the full question and answer

Plants resistant to salt spray in FL
December 18, 2011 - What type of plants can I put in a small planter bed next to a waterfall with a saltwater pool? Everything I put in there dies. I live in Southwest Florida.
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.