Callicarpa: A Must-Have for Fall

When I first saw Callicarpa, otherwise known as beautyberry, I thought it was a joke of some sort. Or perhaps a modern invention for gardeners who want a certain color of purple in their garden. It seems too bright, too purple, and too candy-colored to be true. But then I read about John Bartram and his plant hunting in early 1700s America. He went to great lengths to find plants to ship back to England to feed the insatiable British hunger for unusual plants. Sure enough, Callicarpa was one of his prized finds.

But still, I didn’t add the plant to my landscape until I saw a study that shows beautyberry is a highly effective tick repellent. Turns out the Native Americans used it for that, too. Apparently, it also works to repel fire ants and mosquitos. And so, I now have lots of them planted strategically where my dog and cat rub up against them. And this time of year they are in their full glory, adding color to an otherwise fading garden. The plant is both beautiful and useful.

Nature is amazing.


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11 Responses to Callicarpa: A Must-Have for Fall

  1. Alice Green September 9, 2013 at 11:50 am #

    Wish humans could find ways to be as helpful and useful to the planet as nature does. I know many people, like you Maria, add beauty to the earth, but so many others are mindlessly destroying it and some out of ignorance, but more out of greed. Thanks for introducing us to this plant, I’ve never heard of it before, but will look for it now!

  2. Donna B September 9, 2013 at 12:32 pm #

    Say is this plant ok for my chickens to eat,or what of those berries? My kidlets may think they should try to flavor check them. Are they poisonous to humans,cats,dogs or goats? Just covering the bases before trying to locate some. I’d hate to buy & plant it only to have a bad scene hen need to yank it,you know.

  3. Ken September 9, 2013 at 2:17 pm #

    I have a large beauty berry near my chicken run. Last year, they picked it clean of those bright purple berries. (my goats have also nibbled at it) No side effects.
    This year, I’ve redirected the hens away from the shrub so I can enjoy the beauty of the berries.

  4. Bernadete Casturina Lemes September 10, 2013 at 7:28 am #

    Bom dia! Maria somente agradecer pelos ensinos. Delicadeza em partilhar de seu conhecimento com simplicidade e beleza.


    “No fim tu hás de ver que as coisas mais leves são as únicas que o vento não conseguiu levar: um estribilho antigo um carinho no momento preciso o folhear de um livro de poemas o cheiro que tinha um dia o próprio vento…” Mario Quintana

  5. Elsa Rael September 11, 2013 at 10:30 pm #

    question: can Callicarpa be grown indoors?

  6. Elsa Rael September 11, 2013 at 10:32 pm #

    Can callicarpa be grown indoors?

  7. Donna in Delaware September 12, 2013 at 11:06 am #

    I planted these a few years ago. They’re beautiful!

  8. Donna in Delaware September 12, 2013 at 11:08 am #

    I forgot. They can get quite large. I keep them cut back until late summer, hen I just let them grow crazy big. The berries can sometimes get deep purple. I love the color, and the bird like tem too!

  9. Elizabeth J Farkas September 13, 2013 at 10:12 am #

    Hello Everyone, Maria,
    I’d like to add that Calllicarpa is also known as French-mulberry. It is from the Vervain family (Verbenaceae). As a deciduous shrub, it can grow up to 8′ tall. It flowers in June-July, and the fruits mature in August-October. Bartram more than likely found this plant in his travels through the southeast, and it is very common throughout South Carolina. Beauty-berry likes to habit fence rows, pine-mixed hardwood and oak-hickory forests, sandy or rocky woodlands, woodland borders or barnyards. (Reference: A guide to the Wildflowers of South Carolina. R.D. Porcher, D.A. Rayner, 2001. University of SC Press).
    So, I don’t think this plant would be happy as an indoor plant

    The berries of this plant Porcher and Rayner reported to be “edible, but not very wholesome…sweet at first, they are pungent and astringent afterwards.” The berries are mostly good for birds.

  10. rosetta mason March 31, 2014 at 1:35 am #

    songbirds like the berries here in ky. they are always picked clean.

  11. Anne-Marie April 1, 2014 at 7:23 pm #

    I love this plant and happy to learn that it is so beneficial. Thank you for listing this information .. I will be looking for this plant. thanks Elizabeth Farkas for the extra information also … happy to learn that it is a native plant. (Victoria, BC)

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