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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.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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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

QUESTION:

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

ANSWER:

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

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