Beautyberry (Callicarpa) is a genus of shrubs and small trees in the family Verbenaceae; between 40-150 species are accepted by different botanists. They are native to east and southeast Asia (where the majority of the species occur), Australia, southeast North America and Central America.
The temperate species are deciduous, the tropical species evergreen. The leaves are simple, opposite, and 5-25 cm long. The flowers are in clusters, white to pinkish. The fruit is a berry, 2-5 mm diameter and pink to red-purple with a highly distinctive metallic lustre, are very conspicuous in clusters on the bare branches after the leaves fall. The berries last well into the winter or dry season and are an important survival food for birds and other animals, though they will not eat them until other sources are depleted. The berries are highly astringent, and considered unfit for human use.
American Beautyberry Callicarpa americana is native to the southeastern United States. It can typically reach 1-2 m in height.
Bodinier's Beautyberry Callicarpa bodinieri, native to west-central China (Sichuan, Hubei, Shaanxi) is more cold-tolerant than C. americana, and is the species most widely cultivated in northern areas like the British Isles. It can reach 3 m tall.
Japanese Beautyberry Callicarpa japonica, native to Japan, is also cultivated in gardens. It is called Murasakishikibu in Japanese, in honor of Murasaki Shikibu.
Other species include:
- Callicarpa cathayana (China)
- Callicarpa dichotoma (China, Japan)
- Callicarpa formosana (Taiwan)
- Callicarpa kwangtungensis (southern China)
- Callicarpa longifolia (China)
- Callicarpa macrophylla (India to Malaysia)
- Callicarpa mollis (Japan, Korea)
- Callicarpa nudiflora (southern China, southeast Asia; a small tree to 10 m tall)
- Callicarpa pedunculata (northern Australia)
- Callicarpa rubella (southeast Asia)
- Callicarpa shikokiana (southern Japan)
American beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) has been found to be a natural insect repellant. Three chemicals have been isolated that appear to be the active ingredients; callicarpenal, intermedeol, and spathulenol. It has found to be repellant to the mosquitoes which carry yellow fever and malaria. The discovery and use of callicarpenal has been patented by the United States Department of Agriculture Agriculture Research Service.
Pollard in early spring to keep the shrub tidy.
Pests and diseases
- Scientists Confirm Folk Remedy Repels Mosquitoes University Of Mississippi (ScienceDaily) July 3 2006