American Beautyberry Adds Colorful Purple Fruit in Summer

americanbeautberryVirtues: We love Callicarpa americana for its loose, arching form covered in rich green foliage that transforms into a greenish yellow in fall. In late spring to early winter, small, inconspicuous pink, white or blue flowers, bloom followed by the radiant pinkish-purple berry-like drupes that gracefully encircle the stems in colorful clusters. As the deciduous leaves begin to fall in autumn, the bright fruit endures—clinging to the thin, arching light brown stems well into the winter season. They attract birds.

Common name: American beautyberry; French mulberry; American mulberry

Botanical name: Callicarpa americana

Flowers: Funnel-like, relatively insignificant flowers begin to bloom in late spring through early summer. These develop into vibrant bundles of berry-like drupes that densely cover the long branches; these brightly colored fruit can remain well into late winter, unless they are eaten by birds.

Foliage: Rich green ovate leaves with coarsely toothed margins fill the lengthy, arching stems. The deciduous foliage changes into a yellowish-green in fall.

Habit: Callicarpa americana has a charming lax, open habit reaching 3 to 6 feet in height with a similar spread.

Season: These lovely perennials have heaps of year-long interest, with their opulent foliage from spring into fall and the striking pinkish-lavender berries that fill the curving branches from late summer through winter.

Origin: Species native to South/Southeastern regions of the United States.

How to grow Callicarpa americana: American beautyberries thrive in moist soils in full sun to part shade. They are tolerant of clay soil and sandy soil. They need regular water—especially until established. These bird-loving shrubs tolerate heavy pruning and can be pruned almost to the ground once all the berries have fallen in late winter. USDA Zones 6-10.

Image: Eric Hunt
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