Birds - including robins, catbirds, cardinals, mockingbirds, brown thrashers, finches and towhees - are favorite consumers of both the fresh berries and shriveled raisins. The fruit is heavily used by white-tailed deer and will be eaten well into late November.
Pronunciation: kallee-CAR-pa ameri-KON-a
Common name(s): American beautyberry, beauty berry, French mulberry,
USDA hardiness zones: 6 through 10
Origin: native from Maryland to Florida an west through Tennessee, Arkansas and Texas.
Uses: natural garden specimen; wildlife food; spring flowers
Availability: somewhat available, may have to go out of the region to find the tree.
American Beautyberry's Ecology:
Flower: Dense axillary clusters with lavender-pink cymes on short stalks.
Trunk/bark/branches: Multi-trunked, shade tolerant and with spreading branches. Stems ascending and spreading, opposite branched and young twigs light green.
What the Experts Say!:
"It is a great thrill to experience the plant in the wild, particularly in September and October when the fruit are at their best. This shrub thrives with neglect."
Dr. Charles Bryson, Mississippi Botanist:
"My grandfather would cut branches with the leaves still on them and crush the leaves, then he and his brothers would stick the branches between the harness and the horse to keep deerflies, horseflies and mosquitoes away".
In the landscape, you can prune Amercian beautyberry if it grows too lanky. Pruning actually makes a very pretty plant. Cut it back to within 4-6 of the ground in early spring as it flowers and fruits on new wood. To make more beautyberries, take softwood cuttings, place them in sand and keep moist. Cuttings should root in one to two weeks.
This plant can tolerate extremes of heat and cold, it is very rarely bothered by insects or diseases and will live in most soils. Beautyberry can stand partial shade but is at its best in full sun if provided ample moisture. It will also be denser and more fruitful in sun. American Beautyberry looks best planted in masses and is especially beautiful under pine trees or placed in a shrub border.
By late summer and autumn the flowers give rise to berry-like drupes in striking metallic shades of magenta and violet in the fall. The beautyberries are packed tightly together in clusters that encircle the stem. A variety called "lactea" has white fruits.