Found throughout the southeast, American beautyberry is a perennial native shrub that produces bright purple berries. The berries which appear in late summer and fall add a spot of bright color in shady areas.
The summer flowers are somewhat inconspicuous, but can add some lavender color to your garden. The flowers attract bees and butterflies.
Beautyberry grows rather quickly and generally grows well in part-shade but can also be planted in full sun. Berry production may be higher in full sun. It can get as tall as 8-10 feet but generally is found around 4-5 feet tall, unless grown in optimal conditions. There is a white berry variety as well.
It can tolerate dry weather, but generally prefers moist but well-drained soil. However, it has low water requirements once established. Beautyberry is tolerant of hard pruning, if you wish to keep the shrub from getting too tall. Pruning should be done in the winter. This shrub is deciduous and will be bare in winter. However, the berries will persist after the leaves are gone, adding some late fall color to your garden.
The berries are a an important fall food source for black bear, songbirds, opossum, foxes, raccoon, deer, squirrels, and even quail. Deer may eat the leaves if other preferred foods aren’t available.
The summer flowers attract bees and butterflies.
How to Propagate American Beautyberry
Beautyberry can be grown from seed, root cuttings, or from softwood cuttings. Seeds should be planted in the fall. If you plan to store them in order to plant later, you will need to clean all pulp from the seeds. Read the USDA fact sheet for instructions: http://plants.usda.gov/factsheet/pdf/fs_caam2.pdf
Read the USDA plant guide: http://plants.usda.gov/plantguide/pdf/cs_caam2.pdf
More details can be found at: http://www.clemson.edu/extension/hgic/plants/landscape/shrubs/hgic1086.html
In My Garden
I planted American beautyberry around the base of a large oak in my garden. It has only been one year since I planted, but when the shrubs get larger, I think the bright purple berries will really add a good bit of color in this shady area.