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Callicarpa americana - L.

Common Name American Beautyberry, Beautyberry, French Mulberry, American Beautyberry
Family Verbenaceae
USDA hardiness 7-10
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Rich woods and thickets[43].
Range South-eastern N. America - Florida to Texas and north to Oklahoma and Arkansas.
Edibility Rating    (2 of 5)
Other Uses    (0 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care (info)
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Callicarpa americana American Beautyberry, Beautyberry, French  Mulberry, American  Beautyberry
Callicarpa americana American Beautyberry, Beautyberry, French  Mulberry, American  Beautyberry


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Bloom Color: Lavender. Main Bloom Time: Early spring, Late spring, Mid spring. Form: Rounded, Spreading or horizontal, Vase.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of shrub
Callicarpa americana is a deciduous Shrub growing to 1.8 m (6ft) at a slow rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 6. It is in flower from June to July. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs).
Suitable for: medium (loamy) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map



Woodland Garden Dappled Shade;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Fruit
Edible Uses:

Fruit - raw[105, 177]. Juicy, sweet, fleshy, slightly aromatic[123]. The fruit is about 6mm in diameter[200].


Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

A decoction of the root bark has been used as a diuretic[257]. The leaves are a cure for dropsy[61]. A tea made from the roots is used in the treatment of dysentery and stomach aches[222, 257]. A tea made from the roots and berries is used in the treatment of colic[222, 257]. Some native North American Indian tribes used the leaves and roots in sweat baths for the treatment of malaria, rheumatism and fevers[222, 257].


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Other Uses

None known

Special Uses


Cultivation details

Landscape Uses:Border, Cascades, Erosion control, Foundation, Pest tolerant, Massing, Standard. Requires a sunny position or light dappled shade[1, 200]. Prefers a highly fertile well-drained loamy soil[200]. This species is hardy to about -18°c according to one report[200] whilst another says that it is only really hardy in the milder parts of Britain, though some forms should prove to be hardier[1]. Requires cross-pollination for good fruit production[182]. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus[200]. Special Features: Attracts birds, North American native, Fragrant foliage, Naturalizing, Attracts butterflies, Inconspicuous flowers or blooms.


Temperature Converter

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Seed - sow February in a greenhouse[78]. Only just cover the seed[138]. Germination usually takes place within 1 - 3 months at 18°c[138]. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter, planting them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Cuttings of half-ripe wood 10cm long, July/August in a frame. High percentage[78]. Cuttings of mature wood of the current season's growth with a heel[78] taken in early spring[200].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Callicarpa japonicaBeautyberry, Japanese callicarpa, Japanese BeautyberryShrub2.0 5-8 MLMHSNM10 
Callicarpa macrophylla Shrub2.5 8-11  LMHSNM12 
Callicarpa mollis Shrub2.4 7-10  MNM10 
Callicarpa pedunculata Shrub3.0 9-11  LMHNM02 

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Botanical References


Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here

Readers comment

Jo Ann Anderson   Wed Apr 27 21:35:11 2005

Thanks for introducing me to this site. From what I read the berries are not poisen. this is good to know because we have one planted in an area where small childen take tours. We did not want them to get sick incase they ate some berries.

Jen Ambrose Cotter   Mon Aug 28 2006

on how the american beautyberry can help us avoid mosquitos... Folk Remedy Yields Mosquito-Thwarting Compound Berries and leaves of American beautyberry, Callicarpa americana, on Pinedale Farm. The Mississippi farm was once owned by John Rives Crumpton, grandfather of ARS botanist Charles T. Bryson. (D419-1) Regional wisdom once imparted by a Mississippi grandfather has led ARS scientists to isolate a natural compound that in laboratory tests was effective in warding off mosquito bites. The efficacy of the isolated compound—called "callicarpenal"—was affirmed through tests simulating human skin. But these results may not have been a surprise in northeastern Mississippi as long as a century ago, once the source of the callicarpenal was revealed. Seems that it was known there that fresh, crushed leaves of American beautyberry, Callicarpa americana, in the family Verbenaceae, helped keep biting insects away from animals such as horses and mules. Placing crushed beautyberry leaves under the animals' harnesses, residents knew, would mash out a repellent oil. Eventually, some folks there took to mashing the leaves and rubbing the residue on their own skins. Privy to this knowledge was young Charles T. Bryson, who was told about it by his granddad, John Rives Crumpton. Today, Bryson is a botanist in ARS's Southern Weed Science Research Unit at Stoneville, Mississippi. And he's told researchers in ARS's Natural Products Utilization Unit at Oxford, Mississippi, about beautyberry's powers. This led Oxford chemist Charles Cantrell—with entomologist Jerome Klun of ARS's Chemicals Affecting Insect Behavior Research Laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, and Oxford plant physiologist Stephen Duke—to isolate from American beautyberry and a Japanese counterpart, C. japonica, five insect-repelling compounds. Among them was callicarpenal, which may represent ARS's next important contribution against mosquitoes. ARS developed—and USDA patented in 2003—SS220, a repellent that's just as effective as DEET. (See " ARS Partners with Defense Department To Protect Troops From Insect Vectors," Agricultural Research, September 2005, p. 12.) DEET, the world's most-used insect repellent, was itself developed by ARS for the U.S. Army decades ago. "In laboratory tests, isolated callicarpenal was just as effective as SS220 in preventing mosquito bites," says Cantrell. Those tests were conducted by Klun against the mosquito species Aedes aegypti, which is best known as the yellowfever mosquito, and Anopheles stephensi, which spreads malaria in Asia. Klun used the same system he used to test SS220: a six-celled, in vitro bioassay he and colleagues developed that evaluates bite-deterrent properties of compounds intended for human use. It consists of mosquito-holding cells positioned over compound-treated cloth covering six blood-membrane wells. The number of insect bites through the cloth determines compound effectiveness. Cantrell says a patent application has been submitted for callicarpenal. Subsequent work will include tests against ticks and developing ways of producing large quantities of the compound, either through synthesis or crops. Toxicity trials will precede any testing on humans.—By Luis Pons, Agricultural Research Service Information Staff.. This research is part of Plant Biological and Molecular Processes (#302) and Quality and Utilization of Agricultural Products (#306), two ARS National Programs described on the World Wide Web at Charles L. Cantrell is in the USDA-ARS Natural Products Utilization Research Unit , P.O. Box 8048, Oxford, MS 38677-8048; phone (662) 915-5898, fax (662) 915-1035. Jerome A. Klun is with the USDA-ARS Chemicals Affecting Insect Behavior Laboratory , 10300 Baltimore Ave., Bldg. 007, BARC-West, Beltsville, MD 20705-2350; phone (301) 504-9388, ext. 537, fax (301) 504-6580. "Folk Remedy Yields Mosquito-Thwarting Compound" was published in the February 2006 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.

Beautyberry as mosquito repellent

Dorothy Bridgers   Thu Jun 19 2008

Will the BeautyBerry shrub planted on property repell mosquitoes? Editorial letter in Richmond Times dispatch (6/19/08)seems to imply that whiter only put the plant writer planted in near back door with results; not having to crush up, etc. as in articles I have read. Thanks.

Dorothy Bridgers   Thu Jun 19 2008

Will the BeautyBerry shrub planted on property repell mosquitoes? Editorial letter in Richmond Times dispatch (6/19/08)seems to imply that whiter only put the plant writer planted in near back door with results; not having to crush up, etc. as in articles I have read. Thanks.

Abd Kadir Idris   Tue Dec 1 2009

Healing Herbal Callicarpa Tea

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