Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Deep Purple

According to The Foliage Network, fall color up north is reaching its peak in many places. The "leafers" are no doubt out in full force, admiring one of nature's most spectacular shows. It's always around this time of year that some relative from up north asks if we don't miss the changing of the seasons down here in Florida. And once again, we explain that seasons do indeed change here, although in perhaps a more subtle way. As our days grow shorter and the rainy season ends, our plants and trees offer changes of their own, some of which of just as showy as the changing leaves up north.

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:
Beautyberry is just the first of the purple fall foliage in Florida. Tune in next time when we feature our personal favorite, just now reaching peak purplitude*. Any guesses what it might be?

*OK, not a real word, but you get the idea, right?


  1. Those are a beautiful shade of purple. Every time I see a posting of these I sigh at their beauty, no pun intended.

    I wonder if they grow this far south, zone 10 east coast.

    Enjoy the rest of your week.


  2. That is a really nice looking hedge of beautyberry. I like the way you have kept it bushy. You just gotta' love that wonderful purple color on the berries.

  3. FlowerLady - Beautyberry grows throughout Florida, right down to zone 10b. It's very easy to find at native plant nurseries... give it a try!

  4. Hi FloridaGirl...I like your row of beautyberries on the side of your house. This is one of my favorite native plants. Those clusters of purple berries are just beautiful. Can't wait to see your next fall specimen.

  5. Just got one of these. I love the way yours on the north side hugs the perimeter. I'm thinking maybe I should move mine to the western side so it gets less sun. Thanks for sharing!