Monday, September 29, 2008


Beautyberry, or Callicarpa, is a favorite plant of mine. It's a medium-sized shrub and while it may be a little too loose or sprawling to work as a specimen plant, or to play any structural role in a design, it is gorgeous en masse.

In the spring the leaves emerge with a perfect chartreuse green hue. It is particularly noticeable when it brightens up a shady spot. In mid-summer, small pink flowers bloom along the stem.

The summer flowers are nice enough, but the real show is in the fall, when a magenta-colored fruit forms where the flowers once were.

The stems of new growth also turn magenta as the days become shorter.

Personally, I think this is underused, though you can find it in spots of City Hall Park and Battery Park. There are two species: C. dichotoma (a native) and C. japonica. These photos are most likely of the non-native species, which has smaller leaves.

Callicarpa is easy to break down in Latin. Calli- means beautiful and -carpa is derivative of fruit or body. A direct translation will more or less give you the common name, beautyberry.

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