Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana)

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Grow your own natural mosquito repellent! American Beautyberry is a wonderful, large fast-growing under story shrub with a naturally loose and graceful arching form. In the fall and early winter, the branches are laden with magenta purple (sometimes white) berry clusters that look spectacular as the leaves drop in autumn.

The American Beautyberry is native to the Southeastern United States, from Texas to Virginia, and is beloved by wildlife across the region, from native birds to deer, for whom it is an important source of protein and moisture. Although all parts of the Beautyberry plant are useful, from the berries to roots, the flowering shrub is most commonly cultivated for it's leaves, at least here in Florida, as a mosquito repellent. Beautyberry plants grow wild alongside shady oak hammock trails and in the summer, we've been known to harvest during our hike and carry it along with us to keep the mosquitoes at bay. 

American beautyberry is also known as French Mulberry, Sourbush, Bunchberry, or Purple beauty-berry. In Greek, the genus name Callicarpa means callos, “beauty” and carpos “fruit”.

Plant Type
Perennial Deciduous Herb

Harvest Season
Fall, Winter

Beautyberry blooms from late spring to mid-summer (May, June, July) and produces beautiful clusters of magenta berries from fall to early winter. 

Mature Size
On average, Beautyberry grows 3-6 ft tall and 4-6 ft wide. In the right conditions it can reach heights of 10 ft by 8 ft.

It can be cut to 12" above the base each winter to encourage more compact growth, flowers and fruit. It can also be left to mature naturally into a tall woody shrub.

Soil & Moisture
Moist, well-draining soil. Beautyberry is native to the Southeastern United States, from Texas to West Virginia, and is suitable for many different growing conditions.

Light Requirements
Part Shade, Shade

Self-Fertile
Yes

Growth Rate
Fast 

Zone Hardiness
Outdoors 9-11; Patio/Greenhouse 4+

The shrub may temporarily defoliate and lose developing fruit during periods of prolonged summer drought.

Natural Bug Repellent!

In the early 20th century, farmers would crush the leaves and place them under the harnesses of horses and mules to repel mosquitoes. They rubbed the crushed leaves on themselves to repel mosquitoes and biting bugs. Studies conducted by the Agricultural Research Service show that two compounds, callicarpenal andintermedeol, are responsible for the repellant.

The roots, leaves, and branches of Beautyberry were used by various Native American tribes to treat malarial fevers, rheumatism, dizziness, stomachaches dysentery, and colic.

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