Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Beautyberry with fruit

with 22 comments


When I walked a mostly shaded trail along the upper reaches of Bull Creek on September 12th I passed several American beautyberry bushes (Callicarpa americana) that had already produced fruit.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 19, 2016 at 5:09 AM

22 Responses

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  1. quite beautiful!


    September 19, 2016 at 6:00 AM

  2. I’ve grown quite fond of this plant. Not only does the name fit — the berries are beautiful, and unusual — I like the way they form clusters around the base of the leaves, so that the leaves seem to have grown out of the clusters. You’ve captured that detail beautifully, as well as the interesting leaf edges. Lovely.


    September 19, 2016 at 6:18 AM

    • I’ve also noticed the way the leaves seem to grow out of the clusters of fruit. Speaking of leaves, I find that in this species they have a mild scent, and a pleasant one to my sense of smell.

      I used to think this species requires a lot of water, but I’ve found it growing in places that aren’t near any obvious source of water, so apparently I was wrong.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 19, 2016 at 6:58 AM

      • In the USDA/NRCS fact sheet for beautyberry, it notes that “In the early 20th century, farmers would crush the leaves and place them under the harnesses of horses and mules to repel mosquitoes. The farmers rubbed the crushed leaves on themselves to repel mosquitoes and biting bugs. Studies conducted by the Agricultural Research Service has shown two compounds – callicarpenal and intermedeol – are responsible for the repellant.”

        That might be worth a little experimentation.


        September 19, 2016 at 7:12 AM

  3. I’m always interested in learning of a natural mosquito repellant. I’ll bet the mules and horses appreciated it!


    September 19, 2016 at 7:27 AM

    • This mule (me, hauling my camera bag) would appreciate it even more than the four-legged ones.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 19, 2016 at 7:29 AM

      • Haha, yes I can imagine. I’m so relieved our biting bug season is drawing to a close. Of course, now we have cold snow and ice to look forward to. Never a dull moment, I guess 🙂


        September 19, 2016 at 7:34 AM

        • As much as I like the warmth here, having warm winters means that the annoying bugs aren’t as easily killed off they way they are up there once the cold hits.

          Steve Schwartzman

          September 19, 2016 at 7:39 AM

          • Yes. One of the things I think we’ll all face with global warming. Also, I think deciduous plants have a built-in timer to shed leaves at the end of summer, regardless of temperatures. So I’m wondering what things will look like around here if our winters start becoming mild. I imagine that more southerly evergreen plants might start making their way up here, assuming the powers-that -be allow it. They seem bent on holding the natural world frozen in time, willing to use extreme force to pretend it is pre-1700’s here.


            September 19, 2016 at 7:46 AM

            • I’ve heard accounts of some plants being documented farther north in recent years than they used to be.

              Steve Schwartzman

              September 19, 2016 at 7:56 AM

  4. I love the beautyberry. The berry color is unique and the chartreuse-colored leaves set them off. My two bushes here in VA have green berries right now. When we were young, my sister and I would strip a few branches and chuck the berries at each other. It was a wild plant in Alabama also. Your photo does remind me that the berries can get quite plump. Lovely photo.


    September 19, 2016 at 7:40 AM

    • That wonderful saturated color of the fruit is unique in my experience, too. You must have fond memories of those beautyberry fights from childhood.

      In looking at the USDA map now,


      I see that Austin is near the western limit for this plant, and Virginia near the eastern limit. That’s quite a range.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 19, 2016 at 7:54 AM

  5. I’ve never heard of them before. What an absolutely outrageous color!


    September 19, 2016 at 8:39 AM

    • That’s a good way to describe the color. Unfortunately this species doesn’t grow far enough north for you to see it up there. Fortunately it’s at home in central Texas and we even have a couple of small ones that have hung on in our yard.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 19, 2016 at 9:22 AM

  6. I have never seen a beautyberry before! What a stunner .. Love that electric colour


    September 20, 2016 at 2:34 AM

  7. […] I walked the trail you heard about last time through woods and meadows along the upper reaches of Bull Creek on September 12th, I saw that the […]

  8. We finally got up to Clark Gardens (Weatherford) on Saturday, after hearing about their beauties for quite some time. Had a fabulous visit (culminating with a surprise one-on-one session with Max Clark himself), saw beautyberries in full fruit like this for the first time in ages, and, to my delight, enjoyed on our first moments at the Gardens seeing a display right next to the register where we were picking up our entry tickets, a rack of pamphlets with your wildflower one right in front. How exciting! Well done!!


    September 26, 2016 at 12:11 PM

    • I confess I’ve not heard of Clark Gardens or Max Clark, but I’m glad you got to tour the one and meet the other. Your “finally” makes it seem you’ve known about the place for some time.

      Thanks for letting me know you found my wildflower guide for sale up there. The woman who runs the company that makes the guides is good at getting them into many kinds of stores in many places. I seem to remember finding one of my guides for sale in the gift shop at Ft. Davis last fall.

      I looked on a map to see where Weatherford is and realized I’ve never been in that part of the state. Visits to Lubbock have taken me west of there, while Ft. Worth has always been a straight shot north from Austin. Perhaps this was your first jaunt into that part of the state.

      By far the most bountiful beautyberry bushes I ever saw were in Arkansas three years ago:


      Steve Schwartzman

      September 26, 2016 at 1:44 PM

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