Beautyberry Shrub is Callicarpa americana

Like many native shrubs, Beautyberry is shunned by gardeners who want a formal appearance to their property. If you can enjoy the more rustic look that comes with native plants, though, Beautyberry is a star of the fall hedge row in zones 6 - 10. 

Beautyberry, Callicarpa Americana, or French Mulberry, enjoys sun to part shade, has minimal water requirements and is disease free. Our row of them is tucked under native peach trees along with holly shrubs for fall migrating birds and fennel for butterflies.

Many species of birds enjoy the berries but rabbits and deer rarely eat the stems or leaves. Callicarpa also comes in other varieties with white and lavender berries. Callicarpa Americana takes its time growing to the mature size of 5 or 6 feet tall and wide.  The tiny pink-white flowers attract lots of pollinators in late spring.

If you have a Beautyberry that you want to move or divide, do that between Nov and Feb during dormancy. Prune out dead branches and shape the shrubs in late-February since they bloom on new growth. You can collect ripe seeds to plant; they prefer 70-degrees for germination.

French Mulberry seeds also make delicious jelly. Use the basic instructions for cooked jelly in the Sure Jell box. For 8 half-pint jars of jelly: Mash 2 quarts of cleaned Callicarpa berries and cook in 2.5 cups of water for 15 min. Strain the juice through a ricer or jelly bag. Bring to a boil: 5 cups of juice, 1 box Sure Jell and 2 Tablespoons lemon juice. Add 6 cups white sugar and 1 Tablespoon butter. Boil 1 min. Put in sterile jars and seal them with a 10 minute water bath.

Callicarpa is Greek for beautiful fruit and any variety will add beauty to your fall garden.  American Indians used the roots and leaves for medicinal teas for digestive issues such as stomach ache and dysentery.


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