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If when strolling through the neighborhood this fall a sparkly purple thing catches your eye, chances are it is Callicarpa, commonly known as Beautyberry. Easy to grow, great for housing and feeding birds in winter, excellent for cutting to add to fall floral displays, Callicarpa is a must-have plant in the northwest.
Profusion Beautyberry - Callicarpa bodinieri var. giraldii 'Profusion'
This is the most popular version of Beautyberry. Flowers are lavender & bloom in July-August, leaves are matte green with a purple tinge & turn gold before dropping in autumn to reveal bright purple berries. Berries persist on stiff bare branches well into winter. Grows 6-10' tall, 4-6' wide – sun, Z6, -10f
Purple Beautyberry - Callicarpa dichotoma 'Issai'
This is the most graceful version of Beautyberry. Flowers are lavender & bloom in July-September. Thin papery leaves are narrow & turn gold & purple before dropping. Berries are smaller than 'Profusion' but have the same bright purple color. Branches are flexible and the shape is fountain-like.
Grows 5-6' tall & wide, sun, Z5, -20f
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Genus: Callicarpa (cal-i-CAR-puh) – In Greek kallos means beauty, carpos means fruit.
Origin: Native to tropics and subtropics from Asia, Australia, North & Central America. Characteristics: Small white, red or purple flowers in clusters followed by round brightly colored berries.
Green leaves are opposite, sometimes hairy and turn gold & purple before falling in autumn.
Size: In their native habitats, some Callicarpa can grow to be trees. The varieties that grow in Portland stay considerably smaller, growing to between 4-10' tall & 4-10' wide depending on the variety.
Culture: Plant in full sun for optimum fruit production & fall color - part shade is okay but it will inhibit berry production. Grows best in well-drained soil.
Problems: Mostly trouble free with the possibility of minor leaf spot. Callicarpa can get rangy over time – rejuvenate by pruning low to the ground in late winter (like you do your roses). Flowers are produced on new growth, so you won't miss out on winter berries.