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Wild Weeds – American Beautyberry

Wild Weeds – Weed of the Month

American Beautyberry

Callicarpa americana

.This large bush makes a statement all year round, particularly during the fall when its berries are beginning to ripen. The bush is often 3-5 feet tall, and as big around, however it can reach heights up to 9 feet in proper growing conditions. Often seen in the pine flatwoods of Florida, on roadsides, and is used as an ornamental in some gardens. The large leaves have a velvety/hairy feel and appearance. Folklore stories will tell you to break up the leaves and rub them on your skin to use as a mosquito repellent, which one scientific study has proved to likely be effective.

The true feature that makes this plant stand out is the unique cluster of berries that begin flowering in the spring, and ripening in the fall. Unlike most other fruit bearing plants, this plant clusters berries on the stem where leaf stems join. The berries, flower white, form green berries and ripen into beautiful shades of purple, are easily noticeable when most other plants are beginning to dull in color (September-October). Beautyberry serves as a crucial food source for many wild species, particularly birds and deer. The berries are also edible to humans, although should be consumed in small amounts. Raw berries are edible, but generally are used to make jellies and wines.

If you see this plant in your yard, or in a natural area, leave it be. This plan serves as vital food source for wildlife, is a Florida native, and provides beautiful scenery.

 

 

Wild Weeds is a monthly spotlight written by Alicia Halbritter, Baker County Agriculture & Natural Resources Agent. Wild Weeds highlights weeds you may find in Florida on the roadside, while hiking, in the forest, or possibly even in your yard. Searching for more information on a particular plant? Email Alicia at aliciah1221@ufl.edu for more information/questions.

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