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Publication #FPS91

Callicarpa dichotoma Purple Beautyberry1

Edward F. Gilman2

Introduction

Perhaps the most beautiful beautyberry, this species of Callicarpa has smaller leaves than either the more common American beautyberry or Japanese beautyberry (Fig. 1). Leaves are produced closer together on the stem forming a smaller, more compact shrub. Like other beautyberries, purple berries are produced in abundance in late summer and fall and persist on the plant after leaves have fallen. Berries appear consistently each year. The shrub forms the same cascading or weeping effect so common on other beautyberries.

Figure 1. 

Purple beautyberry.


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

General Information

Scientific name: Callicarpa dichotoma
Pronunciation: kal-lick-AR-puh dye-KAWT-oh-muh
Common name(s): purple beautyberry
Family: Verbenaceae
Plant type: shrub
USDA hardiness zones: 5B through 8 (Fig. 2)
Planting month for zone 7: year round
Planting month for zone 8: year round
Origin: not native to North America
Uses: container or above-ground planter; specimen; foundation; mass planting; cascading down a wall; accent
Availability: somewhat available, may have to go out of the region to find the plant

Figure 2. 

Shaded area represents potential planting range.


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Description

Height: 3 to 4 feet
Spread: 3 to 5 feet
Plant habit: round; weeping
Plant density: moderate
Growth rate: moderate
Texture: medium

Foliage

Leaf arrangement: opposite/subopposite
Leaf type: simple
Leaf margin: serrate
Leaf shape: obovate
Leaf venation: pinnate
Leaf type and persistence: deciduous
Leaf blade length: 2 to 4 inches
Leaf color: green
Fall color: yellow
Fall characteristic: not showy

Flower

Flower color: lavender
Flower characteristic: summer flowering; spring flowering

Fruit

Fruit shape: round
Fruit length: less than .5 inch
Fruit cover: fleshy
Fruit color: purple
Fruit characteristic: persists on the plant

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/bark/branches: not particularly showy; typically multi-trunked or clumping stems
Current year stem/twig color: reddish
Current year stem/twig thickness: thin

Culture

Light requirement: plant grows in part shade/part sun
Soil tolerances: acidic; slightly alkaline; sand; loam; clay
Drought tolerance: moderate
Soil salt tolerances: poor
Plant spacing: 36 to 60 inches

Other

Roots: usually not a problem
Winter interest: plant has winter interest due to unusual form, nice persistent fruits, showy winter trunk, or winter flowers
Outstanding plant: plant has outstanding ornamental features and could be planted more
Invasive potential: not known to be invasive
Pest resistance: long-term health usually not affected by pests

Use and Management

Plants can be massed together spaced 4 to 5 feet apart forming a nice border or divider. Thick growth discourages people from walking through the plant making it well suited for controlling pedestrian traffic. Branches will droop over a wall if planted on top making it ideally suited for raised planters or containers. Whereas the native American beautyberry grows too large for many residential landscapes, this plant remains small and in scale with many yards.

Locate in the full sun or partial shade for best form and dense growth. Soils from acid to slightly alkaline should support this plant with little irrigation except in extended drought.

Pests and Diseases

The plant has not been widely available so all potential problems are not known. Problems may be similar to the native beautyberry.

Footnotes

1.

This document is FPS91, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date October 1999. Reviewed February 2014. Visit the EDIS website at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.

2.

Edward F. Gilman, professor, Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.


The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.