When we think of fall color in Florida, we think of purple. One of the first to show this regal hue is the American Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana), a really terrific Florida native. In the spring, this shrub has delicate pink flowers, which yield clusters of brilliant purple berries in the late summer and fall.
This is a popular bush with native plant gardeners, because it's very easy to grow and nearly any native plant nursery carries it. Ours grow happily on the north side of the house and require little attention from us. We prune them pretty heavily in late winter to encourage bushier growth - when you leave them to grow naturally they get quite leggy, which can be a great look in a wilder landscape.
A few interesting Beautyberry facts:
- The leaves of the plant, when crushed, yield oils that serve as a natural insect repellent.
- The berries are edible, although fairly bland. Some say that Beautyberry Jelly is delicious, though we ourselves have never tried any.
- A white-berried cultivar (C. Americana var. lactea) is available at some native plant nurseries.
*OK, not a real word, but you get the idea, right?