Sunday, May 31, 2009

Beautyberry Flowers!

News flash from the yard: Our beautyberries are bearing flowers! This is big news because later this summer, the flowers will give way to green berries that will then turn the most bee-yoo-tee-ful shade of purple.

Maybe it's because our summers here are so brutally hot and humid that I love the beautyberry; it's always exciting to see the very first of the purple berries, because it reminds me that fall's cooler weather is on the way.

The beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) is native to Florida, "commonly used as a specimen shrub for its prolific, attractive purple fruit" (Florida's Best Native Landscape Plants, p. 49).

If you live anywhere in eastern North America, you may have seen the beautyberry. Look for "a loosely branched, irregularly spreading, graceful shrub with arching branches" that bears small pink to lavender flowers in early summer, "conspicuous, showy, purplish drupes" in late summer and fall, and loses its leaves during the winter. Beautyberries are hardy in zones 6 to 11.

There is also a white-fruited form, C. americana forma lactea, which my book says may be used with the purple-fruited form to "create a very interesting combination." Hmmmm....

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