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American Beautyberry

Callicarpa americana makes a good hedge on the outskirts of a garden, as well as excellent ornamental focal points in borders.

American beautyberry in Pinnacle Mountain State Park, Arkansas.

Callicarpa americana produces a late summer display of minute, light-pink flowers and then loads of lustrous purple berries in the fall. The berries are arranged on the branches in an attractive way.

These shrubs grow from 3-6 feet high and as wide and prefer well-drained though moist soil with part shade. They like clay as well as rich organic soil in zones 6 to 10 and are fast growing.

Their common name is American Beautyberry, and they make a good hedge on the outskirts of a garden, as well as excellent ornamental focal points in borders.

Deer are generally not attracted to Callicarpa, but birds adore the berries, so if you plant one near the house you can watch from a window while the birds feast on their shiny tasty treats. Even blue birds will come in droves if there are beautyberries in your yard!

Though this shrub has a tendency to grow out of bounds at times, it responds well to being cut back in late fall after the berries have been gobbled up and the foliage has turned bright yellow. Sometimes these shrubs self-seed, but the volunteers are easy to dig up while they are still small and make gifts that are appreciated by other gardeners and bird lovers.

I also enjoy cutting the branches for indoor arrangements; however, one needs to move fast to beat the birds to those berries!

Moya Andrews

, originally from Queensland, Australia, served as Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculties at Indiana University until 2004. In the same year, Moya began hosting Focus on Flowers for WFIU. In addition, Moya does interviews for Profiles, is a member of the Bloomington Hospital Board, and authored Perennials Short and Tall from Indiana University Press.

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