American Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) - This deciduous shrub native to the Southeast lives up to its name
- Typically grows four to five feet tall and wide, although it’s been known to reach nine feet.
- Bright purple berries grow around the plant’s stems in plump clusters. The berries put on a brilliant fall-to-winter show.
- Low maintenance, easy-to-grow and a food source for many birds, including robins, cardinals, mockingbirds and woodpeckers.
- Genus name Callicarpa means “beautiful fruit.”
- Roots, leaves and branches were used by various Native American tribes for medicinal purposes to treat malarial fevers, rheumatism, dizziness, stomachaches and dysentery.
- In the early 20th century, farmers would crush the leaves and place them under the harnesses of horses and mules to repel mosquitoes and other biting bugs.
- Though not very palatable raw since they tend to be bitter, they can be cooked and sweetened to make jellies, sauces and wines.