Thursday, September 15, 2011

American Beautyberries on the Greenway Trail

As Park Rangers, we have the opportunity to observe wildlife and plants that the average park visitor might pass by if not being observant. One such plant that has caught our eye is the, Callicarpa, Americana L., more commonly known as the American Beautyberry or French Mulberry. Native to the southeastern United States, the beauty-berry grows between 3 – 5 ft. tall and usually just as wide. The plant can even reach 9 ft. when growing in favorable soil and moist conditions.
Identifying this tree is fairly easy. It has long arching branches and yellow-green foliage. The bark is smooth with elongated, raised corky areas and is light brown on older wood and reddish brown on younger wood. The leaves grow in pairs or in threes, with the blades half as wide as they are long and up to 9 inches in length. What really make the beautyberry stand out are the berries that grow just below the leaves. These colorful berries in hues of pink and purple become incredibly vivid in September and last long into the winter.

The beautyberry is an attractive plant that attracts wildlife. It provides food for many bird species including robins, cardinals, mockingbirds, brown thrashers, bobwhites, finches and towhees. White-tail deer also enjoy eating enjoy this berry.

It has also been discovered that the American Beautyberry is a natural insect repellent for mosquitoes and ticks. Department of Agriculture research reports that a chemical from the plant – callicarpenal – has been patented as a mosquito repellent.

1 comment:

  1. The American Beautyberry is so beautiful with cool bright color berriers. Our bushes are starting to show their color.

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