Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

American beautyberry with dense fruit

with 30 comments

American Beautyberry with Dense Fruit 8460

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I found this American beautyberry, Callicarpa americana, covered with dense fruit on November 8th at the Hobbs Conservation Management Area in northwestern Arkansas. This is a different sort of fall color from what people usually think about, but autumn is indeed the season when these fruits mature.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 24, 2013 at 6:00 AM

30 Responses

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  1. I had completely forgotten about this! I remember it in my small North East TX town when I was a child, but haven’t seen it down here.


    November 24, 2013 at 6:26 AM

    • I’m glad to have brought back memories of that for you, Georgette. We have these in Austin, but I’ve never seen clusters of fruit this dense here. Maybe it was something in the soil or water in northwest Arkansas.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 24, 2013 at 6:39 AM

  2. We have this in the backyard, but up until this morning I had no idea what it was called. Thanks to you, later today I can show off my brilliance to my room mates. I just need to find a way to slip ‘American beautyberry’ into casual conversation…..

    Beautiful image, Steve!

    Alex Autin

    November 24, 2013 at 6:43 AM

    • The next time you and your roommates eat strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, etc., you can casually say that you wish the beautyberries in your back yard were as palatable.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 24, 2013 at 7:03 AM

      • Good suggestion! I was thinking something along the lines of:

        Room mate: Say, Alex, have you seen the cat?

        Me: Yep, she was out by the beautyberry bush…plant…shrub….thingy….

        And then just point out in that general direction. 😉

        Alex Autin

        November 24, 2013 at 7:11 AM

  3. Do the birds gobble them up? Pretty berries like that last no time – fortunate to get a picture before they are gone.


    November 24, 2013 at 6:44 AM

    • Tomorrow’s post will say more about edibility, but the short answer to your question is yes. I was fortunate to see this many beautyberries all in one place.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 24, 2013 at 7:08 AM

  4. How big are they?

    Jim in IA

    November 24, 2013 at 7:03 AM

    • The individual “berries” (technically drupes) are small, no more than about 7mm (1/4 inch) in diameter. Today’s picture is a case of “can’t see the trees for the forest,” so I’ll offer a closer look next time.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 24, 2013 at 7:16 AM

  5. It looks very dense. I also found it fruiting densely in early october in southern Florida. Apparently this is the best month.

    M. Firpi

    November 24, 2013 at 9:32 AM

    • This is the densest I’ve ever seen, better than anything I’ve found in Texas so far. From what you say, the species is happy in southern Florida.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 24, 2013 at 9:47 AM

  6. Sure is a beaut(y)ful colour


    November 24, 2013 at 11:46 AM

  7. A spectacular show from this specimen! It does make me a bit sad, since our lawn crew accidentally murdered the little beautyberry I had in front of the house, but at least I can enjoy your photo in lieu of the tamed plant.


    November 24, 2013 at 8:55 PM

    • A few years ago Eve planted a couple of beautyberry saplings beside and behind our house, and although no one has murdered them, they haven’t thriven (oh, that old past participle!) either. In the wild this species usually grows near streams, and I can assure you no stream flows through our yard. In any case, the beautyberry pictured here had the densest fruit I’ve ever seen on one of these bushes.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 24, 2013 at 9:59 PM

  8. I wasn’t able to identify this until I got home, but I found beautyberry in far eastern Oklahoma, on the grounds of the Heavener Runestone. There weren’t many, although I did get a couple of photos of some near a waterfall. Now, when I write my post about that little expedition, I’ll have a great photo to link to.


    November 24, 2013 at 9:08 PM

    • Now that’s a coincidence: a few hours ago I began working on a post for next month that will show a picture from Heavener. I look forward to reading what you’ll say about the runestone.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 24, 2013 at 10:07 PM

  9. […] americana is commonly called American beautyberry because of its clusters of little magenta fruits, many of which embellished the last post. On October 23rd, two weeks before the Arkansas trip, I’d made this closeup of clusters […]

  10. That’s gorgeous against the blue sky, Steve.


    November 25, 2013 at 7:31 AM

    • This was one of the only times I’ve been able to photograph these fruits against a blue sky. Too bad that beautyberries don’t grow as far north as Canada, Karen, because I know you’d enjoy photographing them.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 25, 2013 at 8:06 AM

  11. If my geese would ever quit chewing my plant down I might be able to enjoy my Beautyberry. Sadly, it blooms, the berries set, and then the geese chew it down to the ground. It is a resilient plant and grows right back in spring!


    December 5, 2013 at 8:46 AM

    • In Austin people put up wire fences around plants to protect them from deer. I guess you could do that for your beautyberry, but it could be a lot of work, depending on the size of your bushes. In any case, I’m relieved to hear that they’re resilient.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 5, 2013 at 9:14 AM

      • There will be a fence when we move, but it will be enclosing an acre and the pond with the geese inside! I will plant the beautyberry where I can finally enjoy it. 😉


        December 5, 2013 at 9:17 AM

        • Let’s hope the geese enjoy it less than you do.

          Steve Schwartzman

          December 5, 2013 at 9:31 AM

          • They will never be able to get at it once we move. 😉


            December 5, 2013 at 9:32 AM

            • This talk of fencing in and fencing out suddenly reminded me of Edwin Markham’s little poem “Outwitted”:

              He drew a circle that shut me out —
              Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
              But Love and I had the wit to win:
              We drew a circle that took him in.

              Steve Schwartzman

              December 5, 2013 at 9:52 AM

  12. Good grief, you weren’t kidding! I’d forgotten this shot, so thanks for reminding me. They really earn their name when they get going. 😀 Guess we have to plan a jaunt to AR again one of these days. Our mini-visit to Little Rock for a conference gave us the first chance to visit there, and we thought there was more than enough on that little peek-in to convince us to revisit…when we can find the time…! We’ve heard the grounds of Crystal Bridges are at least as spectacular as the museum, among other things, and I would happily reassess my first fabulous impression of the catfish sandwich at Doe’s in Little Rock. (Cue softly growling stomach.)


    September 26, 2016 at 2:42 PM

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