Callicarpa (Beautyberry)

Beautyberries are showstoppers in the fall with jewel-like berry “beads” that may persist through winter

The Callicarpa genus contains woody, deciduous shrubs and small trees, commonly known as beautyberries. They are grown for their bushy, naturally loose, elegantly arching habit and dense flowerheads of dainty white or pale pink blossoms that attract bees and butterflies and transform into bright, glossy, jewel-like berry “beads” that are either metallic purple or white, depending on cultivar. A true showstopper in the fall, beautyberry’s branches are laden with berries August through October and may persists through winter. Although having very little flavor, the berries are edible and attract songbirds. Some varieties exhibit foliage color changes in spring, summer, and/or fall.

Callicarpa is a large genus with many and varied species that typically grow between 3 to 10 feet tall and spread about as wide but can be pruned to maintain a desired size and shape. Any pruning should be done in late winter or early spring, as flowers are borne on new growth. Four of the most popular species grown for ornamental use are C. americana (American beautyberry, American mulberry [a North American native]), C. japonica (Japanese beautyberry), C. dichotoma (purple beautyberry), and C. bodinieri (Bodinier beautyberry, profusion beautyberry). Beautyberries fruit best when planted in groups in full sun to part shade, especially after a long, hot summer. The long-lived shrubs are easy to grow, low maintenance, and drought tolerant.