July 19, 2014
More gardeners than ever are interested in having native plants in their landscapes. If there was only one native plant I could choose it would have to be beautyberry. The deciduous American beautyberry is the variety gardeners are the most familiar with. Known for its fall show of beautiful purple berries, they are bright and shiny, arranged in clusters at the leaf nodes, and held tightly along the arching branches. There are American beautyberry selections having both white and pink berries. But there is a non-native beautyberry I also can't do without. Callicarpa dichotoma, or Japanese beautyberry, is a smaller version of its American cousin. The leaves are smaller, and the purplish fruit clusters are on short stems all along the branches. In the early summer both American and Japanese beautyberry have small pink to lavender flower clusters, called cymes, that bloom in the axils of the leaves. But the beautyberry I like the most is a selection called Duet. The reason this is my favorite is because I discovered this plant. It was a mutation on a white-berried Japanese beautyberry selection called Albifructis. Duet is a variegated selection with medium green leaves, having white to creamy edges. Early summer brings small white flowers blooming along the stems. In the fall white berries are a treat. Beautyberries will grow well in partial shade to full sun in our landscapes and gardens. I'm horticulturist Gary Bachman for Southern Gardening.