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Callicarpa japonica Japanese Beautyberry1

Edward F. Gilman 2


This species of Callicarpa is common in the trade in eastern and southern landscapes. Like other beautyberries, purple berries are produced in abundance in late summer and fall and persist on the plant after leaves have fallen. The shrub forms the same cascading or weeping effect so common on other beautyberries. It usually grows to about 6-feet-tall, but can reach 10 feet with a similar spread.

General Information

Scientific name: Callicarpa japonica
Pronunciation: kal-lick-AR-puh juh-PAW-nick-uh
Common name(s): Japanese beautyberry
Family: Verbenaceae
Plant type: shrub
USDA hardiness zones: 6 through 8 (Fig. 1)
Planting month for zone 7: year round
Planting month for zone 8: year round
Origin: not native to North America
Uses: foundation; border; mass planting; container or aboveground planter; naturalizing
Availability: somewhat available, may have to go out of the region to find the plant

Figure 1. Shaded area represents potential planting range.
Figure 1.  Shaded area represents potential planting range.


Height: 4 to 6 feet
Spread: 4 to 6 feet
Plant habit: round; spreading; vase shape
Plant density: open
Growth rate: moderate
Texture: medium


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


Flower color: lavender
Flower characteristic: spring flowering


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

Trunk and Branches

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


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


Roots: usually not a problem
Winter interest: no special winter interest
Outstanding plant: not particularly outstanding
Invasive potential: not known to be invasive
Pest resistance: no serious pests are normally seen on the plant

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 well 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. Temperatures below zero often kill plants to the ground, but sprouts formed in the spring will flower and produce the showy fruit.

The cultivar 'Leucocarpa' has white fruit.


1. This document is FPS92, 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
2. Edward F. Gilman, professor, Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

Publication #FPS92

Date: 5/26/2015


      Organism ID


      • Gail Hansen de Chapman