The Advantages of Purple Beautyberry Planting

Native to the moist, organic-rich soils of the southeastern United States, purple beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) forms a mounding, drooping branched shrub 3 to 6 feet tall and wide. Tolerant of moist sand, loam and clay soils that drain well after rains, it is appropriate for culture in USDA Hardiness Zones 6 through 10. Plant shrubs in multiple numbers, which leads to heavier production of the attractive fruits.

Wildlife Benefits

Several creatures benefit from purple beautyberry shrubs in the native or garden landscape. While the small, early-summer flowers aren't showy, they provide pollen and nectar for bees and butterflies. Deer forage upon the tender young stems and leaves. Some butterfly larvae feed upon the foliage. The fruits provide nourishment to songbirds from late summer to midwinter. The mounding thicket of branches also provides cover for animals.

Ornamental

In North America, this native species of beautyberry grow well in woodlands without the worry of displacing other native shrub species. It will spread by seedlings as birds scatter the seeds via their droppings. Lovely as an informal screen, hedge or barrier in a mixed-shrub border or woodland garden, the main ornamental feature remains the rose-violet to magenta berry clusters that line the branches. Ripe by late summer, they become much more prevalent once the leaves blush yellow and drop away in autumn.

Erosion Control

Cleared landscapes, such as those around mines that need reclamation to native vegetation in the eastern United States, often use purple beautyberry to initially cover the landscape. The sprawling branches limit rain and wind exposure to soils, reducing water runoff and erosion. This also lends the plants for use stabilizing woodland hillsides.

Keywords: Callicarpa americana, American native plants, wildlife plants, purple beautyberry

About this Author

James Burghardt has written for "The Public Garden," "Docent Educator," nonprofit newsletters and for horticultural databases, becoming a full-time writer in 2008. He's gardened and worked professionally at public and private gardens in Colorado, Florida, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina and Pennsylvania. He has written articles for eHow and GardenGuides.